The Who and the What | Victory Gardens Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Rom Barkhourdar and Minita Gandhi in The Who and the What

Rom Barkhourdar and Minita Gandhi in The Who and the What

Michael Courier

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through July 12 2015
Price: $20-$60
Imagine Fiddler on the Roof with a modern-day, Muslim Tevye. To a remarkable degree, that's Ayad Akhtar's 2014 The Who and the What. Like the iconic Jewish milkman of the musical, Afzal is a regular guy whose children stretch his traditional religious views nearly to the breaking point. The Pakistan-born founder of a successful Atlanta taxi company, Afzal dotes on Zarina, the brilliant eldest of his two daughters, even to the point of subsidizing her unmaidenly effort to write a novel. But when that novel turns out to be a feminist meditation on Muhammad, Afzal bridles. Akhtar's (nonmusical) script is often playful in its approach to cultural, religious, and familial dissonance; it's got serious stakes, though, and director Ron OJ Parson comes close to undermining them by pushing too hard for laughs. Still, a sharp cast goes a long way toward righting the balance. Shane Kenyon is particularly effective as Zarina's white-boy-imam husband. —Tony Adler



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