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NY Theater Reviews

Jennifer Bareilles, Greg Keller and Jeffrey Bean/ Ph: Joan Marcus

PAGEANTRY SPOOF

By JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ

Larissa FastHorse takes on hot-button issues with a deliciously funny approach.

In The Thanksgiving Play, Logan, a woke teacher, struggles mightily while trying to devise a grant-funded, culturally sensitive elementary school pageant that celebrates both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month.
 
Admittedly, that’s a tall order and a serious subject, especially as cultural appropriation and historical whitewashing rage as hot-button issues. But comedy beats preachiness any day, so thank goodness that Larissa FastHorse, an emerging Native American writer, takes a deliberately broad and deliciously funny approach in this new spoof at Playwrights Horizons (through Nov. 25). A compact work running a fleet 90 minutes, it gets in jabs at genocide, white privilege, political correctness, neurotic actors and more. Goofy Thanksgiving songs and skits presumably okay for kids are threaded throughout to make it all more of a party mix.
 
Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s ace quartet includes Jennifer Bareilles as Logan, Greg Keller as her street performer boyfriend, Jeffrey Bean as a nerdy history teacher and wannabe writer, and Margo Seibert, a dim actor unconcerned about cultural authenticity.
 
Some gags are too inside-theater for their own good, and the play lacks anything really eye-opening. Still, The Thanksgiving Play makes you chuckle and think a bit – and that’s something to be grateful for.