Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Familiar at Woolly Mammoth

I went to what was the second to last performance of "Familiar" at Woolly Mammoth on Sunday, so this is mostly a review for if this show gets restaged elsewhere. The show looks at a Zimbabwean American family in Minnesota. The eldest of two daughters is getting married, she's the lawyer, got five and ten year plans daughter.  She is marrying a white dude from her not the same flavor of Christian church that her parents raised her in.  Meanwhile, the younger daughter has just arrived back from her first trip to Zimbabwe, she's a singer/songwriter/feng shui artist. So there are family tensions, family secrets, a surprise wedding guest, and lots of discussions about whether the two daughters should have been raised with more of a sense of their Zimbabwean heritage, or if the chance to do it now should they choose is enough.  It was quite simply wonderful.  I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at a play.  The characters felt incredibly real, and their attempts to navigate the things they did not know, felt they should know, or wished they had more of a connection to, from watching football to performing a Zimbabwean Shona ritual for the wedding. 
It was also touching, poignant, and great.  The set was essentially a living room, and while for parts the cast goes off stage, a lot of it, they are onstage reacting to various family discussions, and everyone did a wonderful job.  The theater had an interactive bit outside about cultures and heritages one is born to and that one finds, which added an interesting layer.  Looking forward to more from this playwright.