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"The Thanksgiving Play" Is A Comical And Critical Take On The Holiday

Courtesy of Oregon Contemporary Theatre

Larissa FastHorse is a prolific Native American playwright whose works are produced throughout the country. But when some theaters complained they didn’t have Native American actors available, she wrote “The Thanksgiving Play” as a spoof for white actors.

The production at Oregon Contemporary Theatre features four outstanding actors and fast-paced direction by Kirk Boyd. Some of the lines are funny, and the action is frenetic, but the characters are really caricatures, who don’t inspire much empathy. They’re just too silly to make us care.

Logan, played by Kari Welch, is a high school drama teacher who’s constantly stressed about being PC. She’s an insecure failed actor and a vegan who cries at the thought of turkey dinners.

Her boyfriend Jaxton, played by Kelly Oristano in yoga garb from his man bun to his socks, is a street performer at the farmers’ market. Before rehearsing a new play for school children commemorating Native American Heritage Month, Jaxton and Logan go through a ridiculous uncoupling routine to be professional and set aside personal issues.

Working with them is Scott Frazier-Maskiell as Caden, a sweet third grade teacher longing to be a playwright. He’s the only one who seems to be living in the real world. Jennifer Appleby Chu portrays Alicia, a Hollywood actor too sexy for a school play, but she’s been hired with a grant as the star.

When Caden pulls out an oversized script, Logan, the director, tells them they’ll devise their play. Sure they will. Even with the best of intentions, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Although the characters debate current views regarding race and genocide, it’s hard to trust their opinions. Their hare-brained shenanigans continue for 90 minutes, which is quite enough to get the point.                                                                                                                       

Dorothy Velasco has reviewed productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for KLCC since 1985.