With this play, "The Who & The What," Pulitzer Prize winning author, Ayad Akthar, continues to dig deeply into his own heritage as a Pakistani-American born into a Muslim family. As he has done with his play "Disgraced," and his novel, "American Dervish," he has created characters who wrestle with issues of identity. This grappling mirrors the wrestling that Mr. Akhtar himself has engaged in regarding complex questions of how to maintain his embrace of his cultural heritage while questioning many of the theological and social tenets of his family's Muslim faith.
In this play, Zarina is writing a novel which examines the Prophet Mohamed's marriages, and the origin of women wearing the hijab - the veil. Her traditional father and sister are shocked by her lack of devotion to the accepted hagiographic image of the Prophet. There is plenty of conflict to be fleshed out as Zarina's questioning voice places a strain on her devotion to her faith and to her family.
This play is a quick read, but will leave a lasting impression.