Danai Gurira puts spotlight on Zim wedding norms

HARARE - Hollywood actress Danai Gurira’s latest play titled “Familiar” has attracted a fair share of interest on the theatre circuit in the United States of America.

It is about a Zimbabwean family based in Minnesota which is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter, a first-generation American.

The bride’s insistence on observing a traditional African customs opens a deep rift in the family that fled Zimbabwe more than three decades ago and has settled into the American way of life.

The New York Times has described Danai’s offering as “a fiercely funny new play.”

“A wedding almost always involves some kind of culture clash… but the impending nuptials in Danai Gurira’s fiercely funny new play, “Familiar,” about a Zimbabwean-American family in Minnesota, make even the most fraught weddings seem comparatively placid affairs.

“By the end of this engrossing comedy-drama, deep fissures within the family have been exposed, fresh wounds are rubbed raw and long-buried secrets are unearthed.

“Although it is written in a significantly lighter key, even as it probes with subtlety and smarts the subject of immigration and assimilation — a topic of major currency these days. Gurira weaves issues of cultural identity and displacement, generational frictions and other meaty matters into dialogue that flows utterly naturally.”

The New York Times review, however, questioned why Gurira did not mention Robert Mugabe- the leader of the country from which the Zimbabwean family fled from-in the play.

“Since Donald and Marvelous’s decision never to return to Zimbabwe becomes a topic of fiery debate, it struck me as odd that Ms. Gurira never brings in the name of Robert Mugabe, the leader of Zimbabwe since 1980, whose policies have virtually destroyed the country’s economy.

“Then again, as entertaining as their squabbling is, the last thing this family needs is another bone of contention to gnaw on before finally sitting down to that rehearsal dinner,” read part of the review.

The new play by the Walking Dead actress is a follow-up to her first one “Eclipsed” which is about the brutal cost borne by women during the Liberian civil war in Africa, starring Lupita Nyong’o.

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