Lights of Broadway: The Minutes




The Minutes

Synopsis: This Broadway production reunites playwright Tracy Letts with director Anna D. Shapiro after a premiere production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2017. A 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Minutes is Letts’ brisk, scathing new comedy about small-town politics and real-world power. Full of chicanery, back-stabbing, manipulation and perhaps some mistruths, the play refracts the current state of America and our politics through a town meeting in the very small fictional city of Big Cherry.


Review:

Lights up on a town hall in the middle of the factionalized town Big Cherry during a thunderstorm is how the Minutes, a play by Tracy Letts, begins. Mr. Peel, the young blood on the city council (played by Noah Reid), is greeted with condolences over the passing of his mother by the mayor of Big Cherry (played by Tracy Letts). As the members of the city council, along with the city clerk, enter into the meeting, the audience is met with comedic commentary and lobbying for support on the passing of various motions and bills. As the meeting begins, the minutes for the previous meeting are missing and as Mr. Peel attempts to uncover the mystery of why Mr. Carp (played by Ian Barford) was released from position on the council and why the minutes were not released.


The 90 minute one act play proceeds at a strong pace, with volleying conversation, expert wit, and a true metaphor for national politics played out on a small town stage, flickering town lights that have yet to be replaced yet the motion was left to die in committee. In a play that is both commentary and comedy, Tracy Lett’s delivers a book that is triumphant, fresh, and well thought out lending each member of the cast a uniquely thought out character that had this viewer questioning if he was actually at a town council meeting in his own town. From 39 year old council member Mr. Oldfield (played by Austin Pendleton), requesting parking during the announcements phase of the meeting, to Mr. Hanratty (played by Danny McCarthy) requesting a fountain refurbishment to allow a more accessible fountain. Each member represents a point on the political spectrum.

The climax of the play, the precious minutes being finally read aloud, answers the question we all were asking, and already knew the question to. In a true metaphor for how the United States was built and the blood that was spilled to achieve it, Mr. Peel must then grapple with the decision of how to deal with the knowledge he has now learned. City Clerk, Ms. Johnson (played by Jesse Mueller) has one of the most poignant moments of the show when confronted with the issue and stating to Mr. Peel and the audience that the town is her home and the issue is too large to perhaps tackle without dismantling the very foundation the town stands on.


After 85 minutes of political volleying and brilliant performances, the ending leaves the viewer questioning their own morality and the blood that may be on their hands by continuing the very same system that was presented to them because it might be “too large to change.”


For Noah Reid’s debut Broadway performance, he navigates the material with ease and strength. Noah’s Mr. Peel is who the viewer is to root for and aspire to, while at the same time set up to remind the viewer of how monumental a task creating true foundational change.


Overall, even with an ending that was confusing and required the viewer to interpret their own meaning behind it, this show is strong. It’s acting brilliant, the set perfect for the show, and the dialogue felt conversational with a well crafted book. I would have to give this play a solid 4.5/5.


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