Akhtar, whose Invisible Hand at MTC in 2016 drew rave reviews for weaving a financial lesson into the story of an American investment banker Nick Bright being kidnapped and held for ransom by a militant Islamist group in Pakistan, returns to MTC this month with a “passionate and probing new play” called The Who & The What.
The play, which opens Feb. 28 and runs through March 24, follows brilliant Pakistani-American writer Zarina who is committed to finishing her debut novel about women and Islam, but discouraged by months of writer’s block. Her father, Afzal, tries to help the only way he knows how: by setting her up with a nice Muslim man. When Zarina meets Eli, a white convert who runs a local mosque, she finds balance: someone who both supports her work and pleases her father. Tensions erupt when Afzal and Zarina’s sister, Mahwish, read her finished manuscript. The implications of Zarina’s controversial claims about who the Prophet was, and what he has become, drive a wedge between the family members and force them all to confront the beliefs that define them.
MTC says the play, directed by Hana S. Sharif, is a “thrillingly fierce and heartfelt piece about identity, religion and the contradictions that make us who we are. Searingly fresh and fast-paced, The Who & The What celebrates the courage it takes to be yourself—even in the face of family and faith.”