Review: THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Urbanite Theatre

By: Nov. 14, 2019

Review: THE THANKSGIVING PLAY at Urbanite Theatre

Urbanite Theatre opened its season with a seasonally correct, satirical comedy titled, The Thanksgiving Play. It was written by Larissa Fasthorse who is a Native American playwright from the Sicangu Lakota Nation. Her work includes numerous contributions to Native American drama and plays involving indigenous people.

This cleverly written play brings the audience into a meeting where four Caucasian teaching artists are attempting to write a politically correct and historically accurate depiction of Thanksgiving for an upcoming school play. They run into a bit of a snag trying to be sensitive to the Native American side of the story, who in reality, were eventually pushed off their land and killed.

We come to know whacky but lovable Logan (Genevieve Simon) who is an elementary school drama teacher. Logan has received grants to create a play for "Native American Heritage Month" at her school. The grant comes on the premise that she will express the view of a Native American within the storyline. Jaxton (Paul Michael Thomson) Logan's rather presumptuous boyfriend who is a street performer at a local farmer's market and yoga instructor partners with her in the dilemma to properly produce and write this drama. Caden (Eric Leonard) a history teacher/playwright hopeful joins the team as their "historian" and has brought along several versions of the way the play can come to life. Rounding off the cast is Alicia (Clare Lopez) an ethnic-looking professional actress Logan has brought in from Los Angeles.

Chaos ensues when each character has their own spin on being politically correct on what is said, who says it and how it should be presented. Logan has to be mindful of the grant she has received to produce this play, highlighting the perspective of a Native American. Half of that is accomplished by hiring Alicia. Caden, from an historian's point of view, is trying to stay true to the original story. (The audience will be shocked by a bloody scene depicting a true event.) Jaxton vacillates on what he feels the play should state as he sees Caden's point of view as well as Logan's, which are polar opposites. Throughout the play we are treated to scenes from Thanksgiving plays of the past where the cast plays children in various costumes and temperaments.

Miss Simon brings an energetic persona to Logan with a mix of emotionally charged urgency that is endearing yet nerve racking. She tries various ways to bring out a good story that is appropriate for children, while trying to paint an authentic picture. Mr. Thomson's Jaxton also brings an energy to the stage that is often calmed by his yoga inspired lifestyle which makes him stop midsentence to reassess his thought process. Mr. Leonard's Caden is fun to watch, between his crush on Alicia and his drive to be a playwright. He adds a lot to this production, being the historian, full of facts - however morbid. Miss Lopez plays Alicia as a free-spirited, into herself LA actress, with little depth but with a lovable heart. She adds some spice to the play.

As with any Thanksgiving celebration or any holiday celebrated with a food-fest, you have to have great recipes. The Thanksgiving Play brings you just that - something substantial, something sweet, something a bit salty and a little bit of spice. Grab a glass of wine in the lobby to round off your appetite for great theater and sink your teeth into the delightful Thanksgiving Play being served up at Urbanite through December 15, 2019.

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