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BWW Review: THE THANKSGIVING PLAY - Hysterical Holiday Hit


The show runs through December 11

BWW Review: THE THANKSGIVING PLAY -  Hysterical Holiday Hit

I've always believed the old saying, "laughter is the best medicine". Hard times call for an occasional chuckle, it can lift your spirits, change your attitude or turn your day around. If you need a laugh as badly as I do, Different Stages production of THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at The Vortex is where you should be. This show is a solid hour and a half of endless humor - surely the return to live theatre we all need! Does this play dare to make fun of the very culture that brought it about? Yes, and the result is comedy gold! This Larissa Fasthorse work is alive with social commentary. I learned originally about the "first Thanksgiving" as a schoolchild in the 60s. Reflecting today, I can't help but be shocked at the often rabid racism passed off as American history. My children were even taught the same tradition. No questioning...just the way things are...right? Fasthorse takes our internal struggles with our upbringing, holds up a mirror and makes us laugh - guffaw actually - at ourselves.

The show begins with drama teacher, Logan (Chiara McCarty), who has been commissioned to write a play for the late November holiday and her boyfriend Jaxton (Luke Wallens). The duo greet Alicia (Cassandra DeFreitas), an actress, and Caden (Greg Ginther) a history teacher and wannabe playwright. As the group interacts, hilarity, as they say, ensues. Big questions arise:What is the real story of Thanksgiving? Just who is empowered to tell the "real" story? What exactly is a dramaturg? How many times can "woke culture" contradict itself? I'm not certain if any of these questions are answered, but there are a truckload of laughs packed into the 95 minute run time.

Melissa Voigt's direction is flawless in its execution and delivery. She makes the most of every single element of Modern Stage magic while focusing on and highlighting her actor's talents. And what a cast! Each actor is perfect, starting with Chiara McCarthy as Logan. Her fluctuation between ebullience and angst hits the mark every time. Luke Williams as the part time street performer/yoga teacher boyfriend is engaging and infuriating in turns. As the actress who is not quite who she says she is, yet everything they need to be, Cassandra DeFreitas is a study in comic timing. The very educational Greg Ginther is absolutely hysterical as he spews history at everyone.

Gary Thornsberry's set is practical, adding to the timely feel of the show. The designs of Nicholas Wulfe, lighting, and Jeff Miller, sound, are flawless in the Vortex space. Truly a glorious welcome back to live theatre in Austin. With the Butterfly Bar @ The Vortex sporting a beautiful new deck, there's no time like the present to get out and support local arts.

Thankfully, THE THANKSGIVING PLAY runs until December 11 so you have time to catch it. The Vortex has a strict mask and vax policy so please follow the instructions when you buy your tickets. Also please note, the play runs 95 minutes with no intermission, please use the facilities before the beginning of the play, if you don't, you'll laugh so hard you'll wish you had!


by Larissa Fasthorse

Directed by Melissa Voigt

Different Stages at The Vortex

November 19 - December 11

Running Time: 95 minutes with no intermission

Tickets: $15 - $35

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