By Lydia Mwambi
The outstanding set (Adam Rigg) for Familiar makes one feel at home right here in Minnesota. From the snow falling outside the window, the den full of heavy winter coats and boots, the art on the walls, and a cozy fireplace, it would be easy to walk up on stage and get comfortable. The lovely cast adds to this at home feel as they invite us into this home and share with us their family secrets and drama.
The entirety of the performance takes place on the day of the rehearsal dinner for Tendi (Shá Cage) and Chris (Quinn Franzen). The couple arrives at Tendi’s parents house in Minnesota with a schedule and a plan in place. They get much more than expected however, as the hilarious antics of relatives and intense family drama unfold and the rehearsal dinner and wedding itself hang in the balance.
Familiar is a show specifically about a Zimbabwe-American family, but it transcends that niche and sends a strong message to individuals and families across all cultures. As the title suggests, the goings-on in the Chinyaramwira household will feel familiar to many. The mother, Dr. Marvelous Chinyaramwira (Perri Gaffney) and father, Donald Chinyaramwira (Harvy Blanks) performances are exceptional and highly relatable. I am sure every audience member will see a glimmer of his or her own mother and father figures in this dynamic duo. Equally as relatable, we are treated to the truly emotional, difficult, and ultimately benevolent relationship between siblings as they navigate newly divulged secrets and struggle to make sense of it all.
This play is comical, dramatic, romantic, and a truthful depiction of the identity crisis immigrants may face as they try to stay connected to their roots while simultaneously living and loving life as an American. Familiar is a beautifully done testament to the bonds of family, culture, and most importantly, the true power of love to overcome any obstacle.