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By the time the play proper starts, we are all guiltless cultural appropriators. Or should I say the play improper?
She has cut the of characters nearly in half and the running time by more than a third. Thankfully, Bioh has not replaced them with woke lecturing. So Jacob Ming-Trent, as the idle, appetitive Falstaff, hilariously combines into one bigger-than-life portrait your drunk uncle, a horndog Redd Foxx and some would-be Barry White. The Public Theater could not of course stage any Shakespeare in the Park last yearand for decided to make the most of its resources by combining its usual two productions into one.
The choice of material was likewise a twofer: a big comedy when we really needed one after a small, grim year, yet also a play celebrating Black life in America, when we really needed that as well. Not just Black life, though. The celebration is universal, which does not always jibe with the petty meanness of the Shakespeare. And Bioh has made several adjustments to embrace queerness where the original used it merely for humor. These substitutions do not feel politically correct so much as warmly embracing. But the third, Fenton, is now a pure-hearted woman MaYaa Boateng instead of a fortune-seeking man.
The spurned suitors are let off lightly here; in a switch from the original, both end up liking the match they are tricked into when they cannot have Anne. Unfortunately, the Falstaff part of the story is not, as it should be, more dangerous.
His relief, when his wife forgives him after first torturing him with false evidence, is thus a more moving moment than usual. And not just for the characters. Can we hope that this marks the beginning of a happier moment in our city and country? Bioh suggests as much. It is not merely Falstaff she has in mind when demonstrating, in this healing adaptation, that even the worst old reprobates can be taught a lesson and welcomed back into the family.
After all, whether from Ghana or Zimbabwe or Brooklyn or Stratford-upon-Avon, we are all, if you look back far enough, an African diasporic community. Merry Wives Through Sept. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes.Sweet women seeking hot sex women looking for women
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