The story of Thanksgiving has often been told without references to the contributions of Native Americans in American history. Playwright Larisssa FastHorse has created a satirical exploration of Thanksgiving in her one act 90 minute comedy “The Thanksgiving Play”, running now through December 10 at GabeStage in Coral Gables.
Actors Stephen G. Anthony, Jeni Hacker, Anne Lise Jensen and Tom Wahl all equally contribute to the humor in the play that illustrates the absurdity of attempting to produce a politically correct play about the significance of the Thanksgiving holiday and the role of Native Americans.
The wit of the cast begins in the opening scene with the actors’ revision of the popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as it pertains to Thanksgiving which becomes even more humorous and absurd as the play moves forward.
The plot of the story begins with high school drama teacher Logan (Hacker) receiving grants to write and produce an original play for elementary school children on Thanksgiving and enlists the help of her boyfriend Jaxton (Anthony), history teacher Caden (Wahl), and actress Alicia (Jensen).
They ensemble in a high school stage trying to create the perfect Thanksgiving Day play with the best of intentions, but as expected in most comedies, the results of their collected work lead them into many directions that ultimately add to the laughs and absurdity in the plot.
For example, Logan hires Alicia to create the play on the basis of thinking Alicia is a Native American, but learns that she is not, which sets up lots of humorous exchanges between the four actors.
Logan’s past work creating the play “The Iceman Cometh” for 15-year-old students that was shut down by the parents, produced these funny lines between Caden, Logan and Jaxton:
Caden- “I’ve seen every show you directed since you came to Jefferson High. The Iceman Cometh was made so much more relevant for 15-year-olds.
Logan: “I appreciate that.”
Caden: “It didn’t deserve to be shut down..
Logan: Three hundred parents disagree.
Jaxton: For now.
Adding to the humor is Logan’s penchant for being a vegan who hates the idea of a turkey being killed for Thanksgiving.
Given that none of the collaborators in Logan’s play are Native American, have no idea of how to create a perfect play and are all wearing horrid costumes adds to their journey coming to a disastrous interpretation of Thanksgiving.
Fortunately for the audience, all the misunderstandings of the collaborators results in a very funny play that pokes fun at making Thanksgiving as meaningful and solemn as a Christmas dinner or a Passover Seder.
The four actors show great comic timing and director Bari Newport (who is also the GableStage Artistic and Executive Director) encourages much of the playfulness in both the dialogue and physical comic exchanges between the actors.
Costume designers Maura Gergerich and Casey Sacco were outstanding in creating the funny looking garments that the actors wore on stage.
“The Thanksgiving Play” made its Broadway debut in 2023. FastHorse has become the first female Native American playwright to produce a play on Broadway.
“The Thanksgiving Play”, which made its South Florida debut at GableStage, is also being streamed online now through December 10.
“The Thanksgiving Play”, a one act comedy by playwright Larissa FastHorse runs now through December 10 at GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Ave. in Coral Gables. Evening shows are at 8 pm with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Tickets range from $30-65 with streaming tickets priced at $30. To order tickets, go to gablestage.org or call 305-445-1119.