Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-04-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Familiar
by Kerry Reid
2018-12-04

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Danai Gurira

At: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: 312-335-1650; Steppenwolf.org; $20-$109. Runs through: January 13

The foundation for Danai Gurira's 2015 play is, indeed, familiar. It takes place in a well-appointed living room as a family prepares for a wedding. Inevitably, tensions build and old wounds bleed anew as secrets emerge. It's a sturdy scenario—and one we've seen many times before at Steppenwolf.

But what makes Gurira's house stand out from the neighborhood of similar dramas is the many ways the Chinyaramwira family of Minnesota—headed by Zimbabwean immigrants and academics Marvelous ( Ora Jones ) and Donald ( Cedric Young )—struggle to define their mutual ties and their individual identities. The impending marriage of eldest daughter Tendikayi ( Lanise Antoine Shelley ) to Chris ( Erik Hellman ), a "little white boy from Minnetonka," is only one part of the culture clash. There's also Aunt Anne ( Cheryl Lynn Bruce ), newly arrived from "Zim" and determined to perform the "roora," or bride-price ritual of the old country, for her niece. Inevitably, this unearths old rifts among the sisters, including Jacqueline Williams' wine-guzzling Margaret.

The older generation's sibling rivalry finds its mirror image in the strained relationship between Tendikayi, a straitlaced Christian attorney, and sister Nyasha, a free-spirited singer/songwriter/feng shui consultant whose own recent trip to Zimbabwe inspires her to explore her roots. In turn, Chris, a button-downed Lutheran who works at a nonprofit for African economic development, has his own loose-cannon brother, Brad ( Luigi Sottile ), who drops by to help with the ritual and finds himself attracted to Nyasha.

Gurira, a well-known actor ( the film Black Panther and the TV series The Walking Dead ) as well as a writer, is Zimbabwean-American and, presumably, drew upon that dual identity in crafting these characters who must navigate the choppy waters between assimilation and loyalty to one's first home. In tone, the story moves from high-spirited physical comedy and verbal ripostes, especially in the first act, to more somber notes in the second. Under Danya Taymor's assured direction, the tonal shifts unfold without being forced.

The cast simply couldn't be better. Jones, Williams and Bruce are a thespian dream team, but Young and the younger members of the ensemble hold their own. We clearly see each character struggling to find firm footing as they face riptides of memory and revelation.

All reveal moments of anguish and resentment as well as deep understanding and empathy. Bruce's Aunt Anne may demonstrate her avaricious side in her "roora" demands. But she also carries memories of the Zimbabwean struggle for independence that Marvelous, who calls her country of origin "a sinking ship," has tried to forget. A recurring bit in which Donald keeps putting up a map of Zimbabwe, only to have Marvelous take it down and replace it with a wreath, moves from being comic to mournful as we learn more about the past circumstances of their lives.

Familiar doesn't take formal risks. It doesn't need to. The family story Gurira tells is evergreen but also fresh, immediate and heartfelt.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Cambodian Rock Band 2019-04-15 - Playwright: Lauren Yee At: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-781-3000; VictoryGardens.org; $32-$65. Runs through: May 5 Cambodian Rock ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Lottery Day 2019-04-14 - Playwright: Ike Holter At: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: GoodmanTheatre.org. Runs through: April 28 "If you want to ...


Gay News

Millennium Park Summer Films to celebrate Year of Chicago Theatre 2019-04-12 - The Millennium Park Summer Film Series will offer a lineup of popular classic and recent movie selections on Tuesdays, June 4 through August ...


Gay News

Downton's McGovern and Fellowes reunite for "The Chaperone" 2019-04-12 - In 1922, Wichita, Kansas, native Louise Brooks left her home to study modern dance at the Denishawn School in New York City. Just ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Utility 2019-04-12 - Playwright: Emily Schwend At: Interrobang Theatre Project at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. Tickets: InterrobangTheatre.org or 312-219-4140; $32. Runs through: May 4 ...


Gay News

'Night of Noise' variety show April 14 2019-04-11 - The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance will be "breaking" the Day of Silence with its third annual variety show, "Night of Noise: Onward and ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Afterglow 2019-04-10 - Playwright: S. Asher Gelman At: Buena Theater, 4147 N. Broadway . Tickets: $25-$40; PrideFilmsandPlays.com, or 866-811-4111 or 773-857-0222. Runs through: May 5 ...


Gay News

Spotlight 2019-04-10 - We've all said it: "The world would be a better place if there were more people like me!" Oh? Really? How many identical ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-04-10 - Herland, Redtwist Theatre, through April 14—Empowered by Bruce Springsteen anthems, four women of diverse ages, intents and erotic impulses vow to determine their ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Pinocchio 2019-04-08 - Playwrights: Joseph Steakley and Ben Loppries At: House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. Tickets: 773-769-3832; TheHouseTheatre.com; $30-$50. Runs ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.