At the Geffen Playhouse: Key Largo, The Thanksgiving Play

L-R Joely Fisher, Andy Garcia, Danny Pino, Louis Mustillo, and Rose McIver in Key Largo. Directed by Doug Hughes. Photo credit: Jeff Lorch.

KEY LARGO – through December 10th

In this spellbinding production directed by Tony Award-winner Dough Hughes (Doubt, A Man For All Seasons), we are introduced to the furies of nature and mankind as a fierce hurricane hits Key Largo, and in a rundown hotel, a dangerous transaction between mobsters is about to go down.

Dashing GI, Frank McCloud (Danny Pino, The Burning Plain, Law and Order) mysteriously arrives at the hotel run by the widow of his fallen war buddy, Nora (Rose McIver, The Lovely Bones, Masters of Sex) and her blind father-in-law, Mr. D’Alcala (Tony Plana, Ugly Betty, The Affair) who are being held captive by the infamous mobster, Johnny Rocco (Andy Garcia, Internal Affairs, The Untouchables). Rocco is accompanied by his lush mistress, Gaye Dawn (Joely Fisher, Ellen, The Mask) and his two sidekicks, Toots (Stephen Borrello, Desire Under The Elms, Superbad) and Curly (Louis Mustillo, The Sopranos, Seinfeld). As they wait out the storm while also anticipating a deal to go down, tensions  inevitably flare and lives are endangered, but love also blossoms between Frank and Nora.

Joely Fisher and Danny Pino in Key Largo. Directed by Doug Hughes. Photo credit: Jeff Lorch.

Fisher shines as the alcoholic has-been saloon performer in an emotionally abusive relationship with Garcia’s mafia boss, especially when rendering a heartbreaking “a cappella” of the torch song, Moanin’ Low in order to secure another drink. Garcia, who co-adapted with playwright, Jeffrey Hatcher, and produced and stars in the show is also in top form — intense and physical without being hammy. Drama Desk Awards-winner, John Lee Beatty’s stage design of a hotel quavering in the dual storms of nature and emotions, is moody and cinematic, and when combined with the lightning and sound effects by Peter Kaczorowski and Alex Hawthorn, delivers a visceral classic Hollywood experience that challenges even the source movie. Legendary Cuban-American composer, Arturo Sandoval’s original jazz score is masterful and reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith’s noir composition for Chinatown; its lilting in the lobby as we exit back into our own world is a genius move.

— Victor Riobo / Ghalib Dhalla

Jeff Marlow, Noah Bean, Alexandra Henrikson, and Samantha Sloyan. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

THE THANKSGIVING PLAY – through December 6th

In Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, the familiar and whitewashed story of Pilgrims and Native Americans chowing down together on a delicious turkey feast takes a darker turn. But Thanksgiving is not the sole purpose of this woke satire.

Four well-meaning white people set out to “devise a politically correct school play that can sensitively celebrate both Thanksgiving and Native American Month.” The results are both hilarious and disastrous. A vegan school drama teacher, Logan (Samantha Sloyan, Dinner With Friends, Grey’s Anatomy), her yoga / street performer boyfriend, Jaxton (Noah Bean, Damages, Nikita), a middle-aged school teacher and aspiring playwright, Caden (Jeff Marlow, Henry IV, Criminal Minds), and an LA actress, Alicia (Alexandra Henrikson, What We Do In The Shadows, The Snow Geese) have to come up with a 45-minute play for a grade school audience.

L-R: Noah Bean and Samantha Sloyan in The Thanksgiving Play at Geffen Playhouse. Directed by Michael John Garcés. Photo credit: Jeff Lorch.

Alicia was hired mainly because of a headshot in which she wore an indigenous costume and was mistakenly assumed as being ethnic. Alicia’s response on being discovered: “Whatever, it’s theater. We don’t need actual Native Americans to tell a Native American story. I mean, none of us are actual Pilgrims are we?”

Alicia’s heritage and colorblind casting are added to the many PC-related topics with which playwright Larissa FastHorse guides us through this journey. Among these are veganism, yoga, sex as a commodity, gender sensitivity, historical inaccuracy, public school prayers, meditation, female empowerment, white privilege, and racial labels. Serious topics, but the play never loses its sense of humor as the enthusiastic group tries to achieve the impossible and tiptoes around the issues. These hyper-politically correct white people showcase how difficult if not impossible it is to always be politically, and how sometimes, it can even make things worse.

— Victor Riobo

Get your tickets for the Geffen Playhouse HERE.