Good intentions collide with absurd assumptions in this satire as “woke” teaching artists scramble to create a pageant that somehow manages to celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month.
Ah, Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays: when families gather to celebrate the warmth of home, the bounty of the harvest — and a legacy of genocide and violent colonial expansion.
“FastHorse's wonderful new comedy....FastHorse winds up these characters and lets them bump into each other. The results are hilarious, with pointed political humor and plain silly comedy...The show is stolen by Seibert...Seibert luxuriates in the character, with wide-eyed self-confidence and joyous empty-headed-ness...In a time when a lot of liberal people are losing their senses of humor, FastHorse's play is a real gift.” Full Review
“Gleeful entertainment...The brilliance and delight of ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ is that it functions on two levels – both as a sharp satire on political correctness and a serious farce that lampoons the hypocrisy of American mythology and exposes the true exploitation of Native Americans. At the same time, this playful play is poking fun at the theatre and the creative process...The ensemble is terrific. Above all, kudos to FastHorse, a unique and marvelous new voice.” Full Review
"It is does exactly what a satire should. The uncomfortable laughs are balanced with belly laughs, which director Moritz von Stuelpnagel keeps careful track of as the action escalates into chaos...But still, the play gets to us: like our admirably well-intentioned artists, we all want to do better, especially now. But to discover our faults, we must first allow ourselves to sometimes screw up. 'The Thanksgiving Play' gives the characters, and the audience in turn, a safe space to be unsafe." Full Review
“So packed with up-to-the-minute laughs that watching it, I half-wondered if the script had been completed that afternoon...von Stuelpnagel has assembled a quartet of actors perfectly in synch with FastHorse's faultless ear for fatuous speech. As Logan, Bareilles effortlessly delivers such mouthfuls...’The Thanksgiving Play’ --which doesn't overstay its welcome, even for a second --is a living hell for her characters, but a holiday for the audience.” Full Review
“An endearingly funny, considerably educational, satirical farce…FastHorse pulls off the remarkable feat of expressing her dismay at the distortions by ridiculing them mercilessly while simultaneously making hilarious fun of political correctness…Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel. pulls these bits off just as effectively as he does the play's fast-paced comedy, straight-faced cluelessness, and farcical mayhem, including football played - Ugh! (in more ways than one) - with a pair of bloody heads.” Full Review
“An uproarious elementary school backstager, it is by far the funniest satire yet written about the ‘woke’ warriors sleepwalking through American society...Von Stuelpnagel provides an energetic staging that skirts the line between ridiculous and all-too-real...FastHorse leaves room to sympathize with her characters...’The Thanksgiving Play’ delightfully skewers fashionable correctness...FastHorse is clearly unrestrained by fear, making her voice a refreshing addition to the NY theater.” Full Review
"The play is fun and funny for most of its 90 minutes...For these well-meaning absurd attempts to create a culturally and historically honest play to work you need actors with peerless comedic skills. Luckily this cast makes even the most wild and wacky scenes work...Von Stuelpnagel has demonstrated his knack for ratcheting up a comedy's laughs by helping his actors to sharpen their performance and his designers to add visual flair. This is once again on display here." Full Review
"It's very, very funny...Not all the jokes land, and even with its brief 90-minute running time, the evening ultimately has the feel of an overextended sketch. But the play delivers plenty of uproarious moments and, under the expert direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the performers' uproarious turns make their characters as endearing as they are daffy." Full Review
“This delightfully absurd new comedy by FastHorse finds four white people perilously trying to create a culturally sensitive educational play about Thanksgiving...'The Thanksgiving Play' bluntly examines how even the most well-intentioned white people can get tripped up in their attempts to correct for the sins of their ancestors, using comedy to shine a light on the difficulty of confronting and talking about race and history.” Full Review
“I am a fan of Larissa FastHorse’s extremely funny and spot-on 'The Thanksgiving Play'...Von Stuelpnagel lets Bareilles, Bean, Seibert, and Keller run rampant...The farce gets out of hand at times, working better when it stays more grounded...We recognize parts of ourselves in the four characters...Thus, there are moments in the show when you are likely to hesitate before laughing, wondering whether you are being insensitive by enjoying yourself too much.” Full Review
"Larissa FastHorse's extremely amusing and thoughtful satire...She aims to present a Thanksgiving play that will tear down the white-guy constructs that endured for centuries and willfully misrepresented the Native American view...It's a nimble production, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel with the same comic verve he exhibited in 'Hand to God,' and acted by a quartet that are in exquisite sync...FastHorse raises tough questions even as she keeps us laughing." Full Review
“A first-rate production. The cast consists of four comic geniuses, with women driving the comedy for a change...Von Stuelpnagel masterfully creates a sense of well-choreographed chaos. His work is effective and invisible...FastHorse wrote this piece to underscore the cruel history that we fail to acknowledge...She’s savvy enough to use comedy to deliver her message effectively. But her play makes a deeper statement than even she may have originally intended.” Full Review
"The premise is particularly rife for parody, and no one is spared in Ms. FastHorse’s hardworking but ultimately very funny comedy. Her play is very self-aware, and hence its tone can come off as somewhat self-congratulatory. But as I grew accustomed to and surrendered myself to this stylistic choice, I reveled in the cartoonish excessiveness of it all. At the end of the day, 'The Thanksgiving Play' earns its plentiful laughs." Full Review
“The play is a straightforward satire on the black hole of death of being too politically correct...The actors all do very credible jobs, the directing is competent...The writing is clear, there are witty moments, funny situations and thought-provoking statements, BUT this is not something for a NY audience compared to what the play has to compete against. This play needs to dance more with the unbelievable.” Full Review
"A topical and timely comedy...It’s ridiculous, absurd, and delightful, all layered up together in an uncomfortable sandwich of American culture run amuck...Directed with comic sharpness and style...In the last third...‘The Thanksgiving Play’ loses some flavor and focus. It’s definitely cutting and edgy, smothered in an absurdist concoction of wit and demented humor...Somewhere in this very fun night at the theatre, the point never makes it completely to the table.” Full Review
"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...Goofy Thanksgiving songs and skits presumably okay for kids are threaded throughout to make it all more of a party mix...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." Full Review
"The characters may be stereotypes but they are marvelously realized by the four actors. The satire is about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but there are some hilarious moments...What disappointed me was that I thought a Native American playwright would offer some original insights on our November holiday that I didn’t find. I felt that the play might just as easily have been the work of a team of privileged white SNL writers." Full Review
"Unfortunately, for a few long and aggravating stretches of the play, which takes place on Wilson Chin's perfectly rendered classroom set, Logan and Jaxton are just allowed to exchange inane beliefs without anyone around to tell them to shut the hell up. In a sense, I suppose, my twitching left eye was the fault of Bareilles and Keller for acting their mostly one-note roles so well. Though, to be fair, they do summon at least a little sympathy for a couple of extremely marginal theater artists." Full Review
“Fasthorse’s comedy of social justice warrior errors...Von Stuelpnagel keeps the characters sympathetic...The concept of seeing well-meaning white liberals through the eyes of a member of a group they're trying to support is a subject ripe for meaningful satire. But despite some interesting moments and a few good laughs, ’The Thanksgiving Play‘ dilutes the concept into pretty standard sketch comedy.” Full Review
“The piece is a clever, extended SNL sketch...Aside from visuals and the occasional chuckle, it wore thin...There’s no question intent is worthy however and filled with extremely valid observation...Acting is fine with Siebert a wide-eyed standout...Direction by von Stuelpnagel is zany and inventive. Even Logan and Jaxton’s ceremonial uncoupling is funny. Alicia’s stagey narcissism is splendid. The stage is broadly, effectively used.” Full Review
“’The Thanksgiving Play’ moves at a brisk, dynamic pace, though its forced slapstick conclusion feels hollow after 90 minutes with the mostly surface-level characters. Its repetition echoes of bougie over-compensation and the ‘Waiting for Guffman-esque’ amateur actor antics eventually become tiresome...Of the four, Ms. Seibert fares best at carving out an authentic performance...She embraces Alicia’s actorly narcissism but digs under the surface, delivering simple but profound nuggets.” Full Review
"A frequently funny, occasionally obvious satire of performative wokeness...FastHorse digs into liberal mores and theatrical earnestness with aplomb...Excessive reliance on sophomoric humor only serves to cheapen the salient points made elsewhere in the play...Bluntness surely has a place in satire, and FastHorse has an undeniably exciting, individual voice that deserves to be heard. She gives the audience a good time, but it often tends to feel like little more than that. " Full Review
"The play is comically self-referential and self-effacing from the start...Fasthorse is searingly funny, and her dialogue, in the hands of four exceptionally talented and cohesive farceurs, lands like thunder. The play is pure in execution, and paces well...In its self-referential nature also lies the problem: What is the play about?...It’s described as a biting comedy, but if you ask me, only inasmuch as it is taking a bite out of itself, and then pondering the nature of its now-missing mass." Full Review
"Thanksgiving is not the only object of the satire, and to the extent the play sometimes seems to miss its mark, it’s because the mark keeps moving...That this aspect of the satire works as well as it does is a credit to the swift pacing of Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s production and the acuity of his casting...The problem for 'The Thanksgiving Play' is that, in splitting its satirical attention, it shortchanges the nominal subject." Full Review
“FastHorse makes clear her point of view in a program note...But the point of the play itself is nowhere near as clear...'The Thanksgiving Play' focuses on four 'teaching artists'...From the get-go, they are merciless caricatures of woke liberals...Von Stuelpnagel keeps things brisk; there are certainly jokes and comic business that land...But the skewering is so relentless, and indiscriminate, that 'The Thanksgiving Play'... seems to define satire largely as 'anything that will make you laug... Full Review
See it if you want to laugh from beginning to end; you're happy to poke fun of liberal white Americans
Don't see it if you're expecting something profound; you don't like off-Broadway plays; you only like musicals
See it if you'll enjoy laughing at mockery of systems of oppression, performative wokeness, and theater people.
Don't see it if you aren't able to laugh at yourself or find grim humor in difficult truths, or if you're a MAGA turd (though maybe you *should* see it).
See it if you want a fresh, creative, funny, zany satire exploring cultural sensitivities written by a Native American woman. I loved it.
Don't see it if you're too easily offended? Idk, that's a stretch. No reason not to see it in my mind.
See it if you want to see a satire about the genocide of the Natives, Veganism, white-male-privilage, PC culture. Written by a Native American.
Don't see it if you have no sense of humor!
See it if you love smart, funny comedies with great acting, writing, and direction; you enjoy laughing, cringing, and thinking simultaneously.
Don't see it if you want to miss a great evening of theatre & experience FOMO when it sells out; you want a serious, dramatic, or mindless theatre.
See it if This play depicts the constipation of discourse that occurs in politically correct environments. If you're tired of that, you'll love this!
Don't see it if You are a snowflake, or if an honest depiction of the backhanded censorship we now endure might be troubling or discomfiting to you.
See it if you want to see a riotous, provocative, insightful, incisive, well-cast play that perfectly skewers our PC (yet still insensitive) culture.
Don't see it if u don't want your own political correctness questioned; u don't believe our society is overly-sensitive or engages in cultural appropriation
See it if you like satire and farce, plays about plays, and hilarious performances.
Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with racial themes, you don't like jokes about liberals or cultural sensitivity or broad character types.
See it if You are interested in revealing the absurdity of our current history revision, convoluted sensitivities of the left in the intimate setting
Don't see it if You are easily offended by satire. If you don't appreciate fun being poked at sensitive political issues.
See it if You like Irreverent plays about events in history as told from the point of view of the indigenous people. A totally hilarious show
Don't see it if You like conventional rendering of an historical event. You are very P. C..
See it if interested in a sincerely laugh-out-loud funny and satirical exploration of cultural sensitivities in modern society
Don't see it if you don't enjoy satire/comedies or you're fundamentally opposed to the idea promoting a diverse representation of voices
See it if You can laugh at all of us and how PC can sometimes go too far.
Don't see it if You are overly sensitive to the truth about Turkey Day and its ramifications in today’s NIMBY culture clash
See it if you can enjoy a very funny and, at times, insightful, shellacking of political correctness. Four wonderful performances of a crisp script.
Don't see it if you feel protective of your liberal consciousness or see sensitivity to "others" as a sacred belief.
See it if you believe in fantastic play-writing and shining a light on racial equity, understanding erasure, and want one hell of a good laugh!
Don't see it if you're triggered by conversations around white privilege, or are unwilling to laugh about absurd truths.
See it if You are in the mood for a contemporary chuckle. Can make light of progressive over-eagerness.
Don't see it if You take life so seriously that you can't laugh at our human foibles.
See it if You want a deep mediation on why white people are always a step behind on the fight for racial justice.
Don't see it if You're not interested in laughing at the white people we all know.
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