First look: Furry play 'Fursona Non Grata' is the real deal
A woman raised by furries, brings her fiance home for Thanksgiving to meet the family for the first time. Fur-larity ensures.
The play was first read in June 2012, and was presented as a radio play at Wild Nights in April. In contrast to Furry Tales – which held a reading at Anthrocon 2007, and left furs amused, but with reservations about the show's grounding – Fursona Non Grata has actual research behind it.
Playwright Jeff Goode created Disney's American Dragon: Jake Long and wrote The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. While demurring to identify as a furry himself, he attended Califur I, and was guest of honor at Rocket City FurMeet 2007 and Oklacon 2008; from this, he's put together a story which is, if fanciful, at least more of an exaggeration of reality than an apologetic for CSI's fursuit fetishists.
Dane and Lisa are all set to get engaged. But when Lisa's grandmother is reported to be sick, she drops everything and heads back home, with Dane in tow. The rest of her family is introduced, with all their quirks. Confusion and hilarity ensues.
That's a simplification, of course. The constant twists and turns are true to the playful, surreal nature of furry roleplay. Lisa's reluctance to reveal her family's secret turns out to conceal a deeper, more touching moment in her past that goes to the heart of why some furs choose to don fur. But to learn it, Dane must interact with Lisa's conflicted brother, acerbic sister, suit-loving father, baking-obsessed mother, raunchy grandmother, and the one ex-boyfriend Lisa didn't mention on the ride over — each of whom has a different spin on what it means to be a furry lifestyler.
It's not perfect. The introduction felt slow, and that's after I missed half of the first scene. The second act lingers in an extended monologue detailing a furry convention. A sexual-orientation subplot followed by an advice session felt more preachy and stereotypical for who delivered it than any of the furry material. (At times, the play resembled a paean to diversity. We get it, people are different; you don't have to hammer it in.)
I also got a great sense of the costuming and roleplaying aspects of furry fandom, but watchers might get the impression that other forms of art have nothing to do with it. Sure, there's no need for badges among family, but I'd have expected Dane to notice a few pieces up on the walls.
But these are minor nit-picks, likely to be resolved well before opening night. The script delivers when it counts, and there are enough one-liners about Granny's war escapades to make the play enjoyable to any audience. Oh, and speaking of Granny: while each cast member delivered their lines admirably, actor Lou Weiss was clearly enjoying her role. I also admit a fondness for Jude Evans's therianthropic Yava, whose dedication to remaining in character, care for his "furry family", and fondness for anti-human epithets were so very familiar from certain quarters of the fandom.
Fursona Non Grata is raising funds on IndieGoGo for "costumes, set design and construction"; so far, they've got… $60, which is unlikely to cover a nose prosthesis, let alone full fursuits. (They might be more successful if they offered something more significant than a poster and program mention to those unable to attend, such as a digital copy; however, I'm told this is unlikely, since they'd have to pay the actors full union scale.) The show is produced by the SkyPilot Theatre Company, part of the LA Stage Alliance.