“Familiar” at Seattle Repertory Theatre

“Familiar” by Danai Gurira at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Ahh! The joys and traumas of weddings . . . happy bride and groom, fractious family members and friends. It’s a wedding and the preparations for it that welcome us on this stage. Here the mother of the bride is in charge. The father pretty much obeys, but isn’t that the way it always is with American weddings? The thing that distinguishes this from most other American weddings is the fact that this family is a transplant from Zimbabwe.

But don’t expect much African ritual and verbiage, oh no, “We’re going to be refined and modern.” Ha! Show me any American wedding where the preparations maintain a calm, civilized demeanor. What we have here is a sitcom, trying too hard for laughs, played with a fine cast of varied colors.

On the serious side, the playwright (Danai Gurira) does address the difficulties of trying to maintain a traditional culture in a foreign setting and changing world. What’s the balance between old country and new country, she asks? What and who are we? To whom do we owe allegiance?

While the issues she raises are timely and terribly important, she explores them in a work that contains riotously funny scenes. There’s a sex scene on this stage that is one of the funniest, if not the funniest, I have ever seen.

The play, itself, could have used some judicious cutting, but the direction of this production by Taibi Majar is excellent.

One suggestion when you buy tickets: I had some difficulty hearing all the dialog. Some of it is lost as one moves to the far back of the theatre. Try to sit in the near rows. The dialog is too good to miss, as are the important issues related to identity.

Through May 27 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle, 206 443-2222 or seattlerep.org.

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