The Minutes – Tracy Letts latest Broadway Play

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Jeff Still as Mr. Assalone, Tracy Letts as Mayor Superba and Ian Barford as Mr. Carp in The Minutes. Photo credit: Michael Brosilow

Let me state it for the record: I love plays written by Tracy Letts! Tracy is tied to the fabulous Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, one of the most exciting and prolific theatre companies in the nation. And I love it even more when Tracy performs in his play. What a multi-talented man!

His latest piece to grace Broadway, The Minutes, is a look at a weekly city council meeting and all its members in the small town of Big Cherry.

The newest enthusiastic member of the council, Mr. Peel, returns from missing a week to attend his mother’s funeral, only to learn that a fellow council member has mysteriously left the ranks.

Being congenial and collegial, Mr. Peel (Noah Reid making his Broadway debut) maintains his polite manner. While his colleagues acknowledge that the council member has gone, no one wants to tell him why. He also discovers that the minutes of the last meeting, usually read at each new assembly, is simply not available. That little detail, being highly irregular and somewhat puzzling, stays with Mr. Peel, and he can’t shake it off. Why are the minutes not available, ready or prepared?

(By the way, each character is formally named and addressed by Mr. or Ms., except for Letts’s character, Mayor Superba.)



With a stellar cast including Blair Brown, Jesse Mueller, Austin Pendleton, and the aforementioned Tracy Letts and Noah Reid (you may know him from the beloved series Shitt’s Creek), the play showcases the quirkiness of each council member.

Set in a grand meeting room of an old office building during a raging rainstorm, The Minutes takes a mundane official town meeting with odd ball members and punctuates the importance of what is about to occur.

We learn that the town has an annual festival surrounding the re-enactment of an historical event that heralds the bravery of the town’s founding father.

Only that isn’t quite the way that event happened, and the reason that the council member disappeared is tied to uncovering the ugly truth.

The play is fabulous, until the ending, which goes a bit off the rails for me. It is unexpected, brutal, shocking and does precisely what it is meant to do.

Make you feel uncomfortable. I would like to see that ending accomplished in a different way, quite honestly. But I suppose it serves its purpose – highlighting how complicit even the most righteous of us can be.

For wonderful writing and for rich dialogue, The Minutes is a play to see.

To fully go on the ride that Letts has crafted and director Anna D. Shapiro brilliantly helmed, it is best not to know the full arc of this play in advance.

It hits notes of comedy, as well as bracing shock and disgust.  I didn’t love the way it concluded, but I understood its power completely.

Through July 24 only. https://theminutesbroadway.com/

 

Author

  • Valerie Smaldone

    Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has joined The Story Plant Entertainment Company and is currently working on a film and Broadway play. Visit her website at www.valeriesmaldone.com

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