Rudy Valdez’s documentary, “Reopening Night,” takes viewers behind the scenes of “Merry Wives,” the first production of Public Theater since the coronavirus pandemic closed Broadway and other venues until earlier this year.
The documentary, which is airing on HBO, chronicles the difficulties of rolling out a show while battling the ever-increasing threat of the coronavirus: a cast member tests positive, the season is canceled, and set pieces are at constant water exposure. If it rains, then there is a loss
“Mary Wives,” a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Mary Wives of Windsor,” was staged last summer as part of the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park program. The play, which was set in South Harlem, featured an all-black cast.
A lot of things can and do go wrong, but the most interesting element of this production diary is that it considers the value of art at a time when the country is on fire. Shakespeare thinks “the idiot”, one of a cast facing a national health crisis, protests police brutality and calls for racial justice.
Interviews with members of the cast, crew and staff – such as playwright Jocelyn Bioh (who adapted the play), Jeremy Adams, managing director of Public, and Saheem Ali, director of “Mary Wives” – reveal the complex and deeply personal reasons for We do. Such devotion to theatre.
There appears to be “a gulf between people of color and Shakespeare”, but many artists find his work particularly conducive to the use of language and expression of diverse lineages. “My Wives” is a showcase for the possibilities of theatrical adaptation.
But there’s nothing new about the execution, and Valdez’s persuasive tone can feel overly chaste. Still, “Reopening Night” should provide a certain kind of satisfaction for those of us who have anxiously awaited the return of live theater.
reopen the night
not evaluated. Walking Time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Watch on the HBO platform.