Last February, La Jolla Playhouse started a new initiative called the DNA New Work Series. This project was created to support new plays and musicals. It brought in audience members to workshop pieces. One of the plays was THE WHO & THE WHAT by Ayad Akhtar. After the workshop, the play was chosen for the 2013/14 season and I had the privilege of catching it at the end of it’s run.
THE WHO & THE WHAT takes place in Atlanta where Zarina, an outspoken woman, clashes with her conservative Muslim sister and father. She has spent years writing a book about women and Islam which unfortunately, threatens to tear her family apart. The play examines traditions versus our contemporary lives.
Everything combined to make the play a stand out. The writing was well balanced. It was emotionally gripping, heart-felt and comedic. Scenic design by Jack Magaw was practical and useful. There were three moving set pieces which popped out when the audience was focusing on a certain place such as the house or coffee shop. The lighting and sound design completed the package.
The four person cast were all very strong. Afzal (the father) played by Bernard White was superb. He was sweet, funny, a good story teller and had natural movements. I was captivated every time he was on stage. Monika Jolly who played Zarina was hard headed and intense but loveable.
This is a show I would recommend to anyone. It was one of the better pieces I have seen in a while. For more information: https://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/the-who-the-what
Rating: To Be