Review Roundup: THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Artists Rep

Review Roundup: THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Artists RepThe reviews are in for THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Artists Rep! The world-premiere of Larissa Fasthorse's new play opened on April 1st and will run through April 29th.

The Cast of THE THANKSGIVING PLAY: Chris Harder (Caden), Sarah Lucht (Logan), Michael O'Connell (Jaxton), and Claire Rigsby (Alicia).

The Creative Team: Larissa Fasthorse (Playwright), Luan Schooler (Director), Megan Wilkerson (Scenic Designer), Emily Horton (Costume Designer), Kristeen Crosser (Lighting Designer), Ed Littlefield (Composer/Sound Designer), Carol Ann Wohlmut (Resident Stage Manager), Katrina Lind (Props Master), and Jonathan Cole (Resident Fight Choreographer).

For tickets and more information, please visit www.artistsrep.org/.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Ben Waterhouse, The Oregonian: Artists Repertory Theatre's production is perfectly cast. Buff, silver-haired Michael O'Connell plays Jaxton, a self-described "yoga guy" who performs street plays about composting and urges others to "stay mindful." He meets his match in Alicia (Claire Rigsby), an actress so vapid she achieves a sort of enlightenment. Sarah Lucht gamely embodies the guilt and resentment of Logan, a failed performer who makes her living directing politically correct children's plays, and Chris Harder brings off-kilter energy to Caden, a history teacher with Broadway dreams who finds a little too much glee in telling stories of settler atrocities. As strong as these performances are, they are upstaged by video interludes, created by FastHorse with the help of some very game schoolchildren, that draw from teachers' Pinterest pages to recreate offensive and upsettingly believable classroom Thanksgiving plays. I squirmed.

TJ Acena, Oregon Artswatch: While the characters are modern tropes we've seen before (the hyper progressive feminist, the yoga dude, the uptight geek, the ditzy actress) FastHorse manages to make these characters feel real without crashing them down to earth. Instead she diverts from the issues from time to time, allowing them to talk about other aspects of their lives and reveal what drives them. And the desires that drive these eccentric characters are surprisingly simple, making them vulnerable. She manages to make them more relatable as their behavior becomes stranger. But while FastHorse treats these characters sympathetically, she never gives them a pass on their failings. The audience sees through these people. The production is wisely subdued, letting FastHorse's voice lead. Director Luan Schooler grounds the show with a realistic design and keeps the actors on the fine TV-sitcom line between reality and absurdity. Everything feels plausible.

Dennis Sparks, Dennis Sparks Reviews: I thought at first that the author may have painted herself into a corner, as identity, cultural equality, history, et. al. are such deep subjects that, how would you conclude such an exploration of this. But she does a remarkable job and the director has enhanced this by letting us see ourselves in these four characters and lets us ruminate on it. Also, something that may not be obvious to much of the audience, is that the acting styles of the four individuals are actual acting stances that are valid in the theatre in creating art. Having spent over forty years in the performing arts myself, I do recognize these types of artists. The actors are all spot-on in their performances and are at the top of their form! And the addition of the videos of young performers was a stroke of genius. I recommend this production.

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