Satire is one of the American theater’s greatest tools. At its best, the genre is both an effective pedagogical tool for change and a sharply-aimed weapon for critical analysis. Larissa FastHorse’s “The Thanksgiving Play” only grazes both marks. Her dizzying spiral of a comedy, the first production of a work written by a Native American woman on Broadway, follows a group of four equally inane white people devising a high school theater piece about the origins of Thanksgiving. The irony of this group’s homogenous racial makeup is not lost on anyone, especially them. FastHorse’s attempt to have her characters bounce between extreme political correctness and overt ignorance results in a muddled theatrical experience that is not quite hilarious, not quite provocative and not quite informative, but has the aftertaste of all three.
Surprisingly, “The Thanksgiving Play” does not begin with an Indigenous land acknowledgement. There is a short one scribbled in the show’s program, but one would think Logan — the play’s uber-progressive protagonist desperate to prove her white allyship — would require one.