Domestic Import: A Review of Familiar at Steppenwolf Theatre | Newcity Stage
RECOMMENDED Danai Gurira's "Familiar," directed by Danya Taymor, begins as a familiar story: a pending wedding drives tension as bride-and-groom-to-be (Lanise Antoine Shelley, Erik Hellman) navigate the expectations and ideals of their family. How do they have the American wedding of their dreams, while making space for the Zimbabwean rituals cherished by some and dismissed, even denounced, by others? The exploration of role, identity and family loyalty permeates skillfully through each character's arc, and the journey is resonant. Gurira's Zimbabwean roots bring new and vibrant life to an old story, as she leans into each character's cultural biases and discoveries. To call the play a farce is a stretch. While Kristen Robinson's set gives the actors ample doors to close on each other, and there are certainly moments of exaggerated physical comedy that deliver in spades, the desire to drive this piece into a farcical space at times overpowers its inherent heart and truth. It takes time