Danai Gurira is on a roll. Not only is she a respected film and television star, she is one of the theater’s up and coming playwrights. And her latest effort, “Familiar,” runs through May 27 at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Playwright Gurira’s day job of acting has already earned her legions of fans. She plays the katana-wielding Michonne, in “The Walking Dead, and Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje (“adored ones”), the fictional female warriors in the superhero-blockbuster film, “Black Panther.” 

Her play “Familiar,” speaks to our time — when immigration is a controversial issue.  Inspired by her own immigrant family, Gurira adds new insight to that experience — culture clashes and fierce fights, but also humor and heart, laughter and tears.

Directed by Taibi Magar, “Familiar,” explores family dynamics, assimilation versus cultural heritage, and the joys and pains of immigration. 

Set in an upscale Minneapolis suburban home, “Familiar” revolves around a Zimbabwean-American family preparing for their successful lawyer/daughter Tendi’s wedding. Immigrants Marvelous and Donald Chinyamurindi have built their American dream in Minneapolis. Marvelous is an overbearing but successful biochemist, and good-natured Donald, a semi-retired partner at a prestigious law firm. 

Donald, nostalgic about his homeland, tiptoes around the living room with a large framed map of Zimbabwe that he’s trying to hang. But Marvelous is having none of it. He puts it up; she takes it down. She doesn’t share his sentiment about their homeland.

They are preparing for their daughter Tendi’s wedding and tonight’s rehearsal dinner. Emotions are always heightened during family celebrations, but in the Chinyamurindi family, they run amuck.  

Marvelous thinks she has everything under control for her daughter’s wedding to Chris, a nice white boy who works for the non-profit human rights organization he co-founded. But she’s in for a huge surprise.

Meanwhile, Tendi’s younger sister, the free-spirited Nyasha, an aspiring musician and Feng Shui consultant, has just returned from a trip to “Zim,” as her family calls it. She’s written a blog about her experiences, but no one has bothered to read it. Nyasha must also deal with her mother and sister’s criticism of her flaky lifestyle and lack of direction.

Marvelous’ sister Margaret — Maggie — has arrived for the wedding. Aunt Maggie, a geology professor in the U.S., is dressed to the nines, but always has a drink in her hand, perhaps to deal with Marvelous’ snide comments about Maggie’s latest weave and her finances.  

But it is outspoken Auntie Annie, still living in Zimbabwe, whose unexpected appearance sparks familial fireworks. She arrives in a flurry of Zimbabwe chutzpah, much to her sister Marvelous’ dismay. Unknown to her mother and out of respect for Tendi’s African heritage, she and Chris invited Aunt Annie to lead a traditional roora wedding ceremony.

Annie insists on the roora (bride price or dowry), and she will preside over the negotiations. Marvelous explodes, “You want this little white boy from Minnetonka to bring us some cows?” Then in a huff, Marvelous marches out of the room, goes upstairs, and locks herself in her bedroom, while Maggie reaches for the wine bottle.

Undaunted, Annie is a force to be reckoned with. She changes into traditional Zimbabwe attire, rearranges the living room furniture, and plops herself down like an African queen. As Zimbabwe protocol demands, she also insists on a munyayi (go-between) to mediate for the groom. Because it’s improper for the groom himself to partake directly in negotiations, Chris reaches out to his younger, irresponsible, ex-military brother, Brad, to represent him. 

Annie commands, and Brad and Chris have no choice but to comply.

“Sit down, on your knees, clap your hands, now put money in the basket, stay on your knees.” She praises the spiritual glory of roora, but she’s already made a list of items and cash she wants for the bride price. And there’s not a cow on her list.

This is one of the funniest scenes in the play. Another is Brad’s cure of hypothermia, although it raises a few eyebrows.

During Act Two, the big family secret is finally revealed. This dramatic revelation seems contrived, landing somewhere between sitcom and soap opera territories. Tendi reacts by throwing off her picture perfect, over-achieving, Christian persona and turns into a femme fatale on the prowl. And Chris’ response is farcical. Let’s just say he barely keeps his pants on.

Co-produced with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Guthrie’s superb cast repeats their roles at the Rep: As Anne, Wandachristine is both hilarious and brilliant. Hilarious during the roora negotiation, and brilliant in her defense of ancestry and tradition. Austene Van as Margaret juxtaposes a sense of melancholy with a caustic wit.

As Marvelous, Perri Gaffney likes to control others and seeks perfection in herself. She thrives on being politically correct, and in doing so, Gaffney dares to portray Marvelous as less likeable than the other characters. Like mother, like daughter. Same goes for Shá Cage as Tendi, who prides herself on being the perfect professional.  Aishé Keita as Nyasha gives a performance that juggles rebellion, exuberance, and vulnerability.

Harvy Blanks portrays Donald as a loving father and good-natured husband. Chris, as played by Quinn Franzen, comes across as a sincere young man who wants to help others. As Brad, Michael Wieser’s reactions and comic timing threaten to steal every scene. 

“Familiar” may center on a specific immigrant family, but it is a universal story, inspired by Gurira’s own family. She was born in Grinnell, Iowa, to Josephine and Roger Gurira, who fled Zimbabwe during the civil war. When she was five, the family moved back to their homeland. Gurira later returned to the U.S. to pursue higher education.

Although “Familiar,” received favorable reviews, its significance goes beyond that. It contains five black female characters and is written by a black woman, which is unfortunately uncommon in American theater. In 2016, Gurira made theatre history on Broadway. Her Tony-nominated play, “Eclipsed,” was the first time a Broadway play has been written and directed by and cast entirely with women.

“Familiar,” unfolds on Adam Rigg’s lovely two-story set. It’s picture perfect, right out of a magazine. And Karen Perry’s costumes add to the ambiance, especially the women’s stunning gowns for the rehearsal dinner.

Although the Zimbabwe accent is sometimes difficult to understand, its musical resonance is inviting. And family squabbles are interwoven with humor, Overall, “Familiar,” is worth seeing. Gurira is a remarkable talent worth following. 

Co-produced with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Familiar” runs Tuesday-Sunday, through May 27, in the Bagley Wright Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Tickets start at $17. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 206-443-2222 or go online at seattlerep.org. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more may be purchased by calling 206-443-2224.