Broadway play is best than its ending

At its most interesting, Tracy Letts’ new play “The Minutes” goes down like an earlier episode of “The Twilight Zone.” 

In a metropolis hall meeting room, the lights flip off at vital moments and thunder booms dramatically exterior. Every so often, a casually tossed-off remark will elevate brows — suggesting that perhaps the utterer isn’t who he says he’s. We nervously anticipate Rod Serling to tell us that we’re in “the middle ground between gentle and shadow, between science and superstition.” And even merely Connecticut — nevertheless no such luck.

Theater consider

Ninety minutes with no intermission. At Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.

Our theories of what’s actually occurring at this metropolis council meeting throughout the metropolis of Massive Cherry run the gamut: murder, aliens, cult worship, or just an quaint Broadway comedy. The long-lasting uncertainty of what type “The Minutes” is makes Letts’ work, which opened Sunday night time time at Studio 54, a supremely clever piece of writing.  

Our extreme wears off, nonetheless, as quickly as we get our reply near the highest of the play. And the fact is further obvious than we had hoped. Whereas the conclusion admirably indicts the conduct of tony, solid-blue suburbs, it concerns an issue that America has grappled with for a whole lot of years. 

Together with to the old-hat vibe, the controversial final second (one queasy woman ran out of the theater) believes that it’s bolder and further thought-provoking than it actually is. 

Nonetheless the journey there’s a mighty satisfying one, full of crackling dialogue, strong-willed Steppenwolf Theater performances and Letts’ compelling argument: that even primarily probably the most minuscule of historic accounts, like say a gathering’s minutes, are necessary to understanding what occurred beforehand.

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Mayor Superba (Tracy Letts, center) leads the city council meeting, alongside Mr. Assalone (Jeff Nonetheless, left) and Mr. Breeding (Cliff Chamberlain).
Jeremy Daniel

Letts — who’s America’s most attention-grabbing playwright/actor combo since Sam Shepard — appears in his play as a result of the strict, rule-obsessed Mayor Superba. (Nothing is scarier than the ferocious Letts calling a gathering to order.) He and 9 others sit behind microphones airing petty grievances that spiral into seriousness.

Tony-award winner Jessie Mueller is the stoic clerk; Okay. Todd Freeman is Mr. Blake, who has a hilarious plan to hold money to the city; the always great Blair Brown is the vindictive Ms. Innes; Cliff Chamberlain is dumb Mr. Breeding; Jeff Nonetheless is the chronically mispronounced Mr. Assalone; the germaphobe who’s most certainly a cat woman, Ms. Matz, is carried out by Sally Murphy; and Danny McCarthy as schlub-next-door Mr. Hanratty. 

Funniest of all is Austin Pendleton, whose Mr. Oldfield can barely hear and harps on his need for a larger parking place. The hilarious actor’s outbursts and erratic pacing are perfection.

The cast of "The Minutes" on Broadway
The cast of “The Minutes” on Broadway.
Jeremy Daniel

And Noah Reid of “Schitt’s Creek” (who changed Armie Hammer) sticks in all individuals’s craw as a doe-eyed, nevertheless not-so-gullible new member of the council, who was absent from the ultimate meeting and retains demanding to see the minutes. Nevertheless they’re nowhere to be found.

The important thing of that doc, we shortly research, lies with Mr. Carp (Ian Barford), whose chair mysteriously sits empty for lots of the hour and a half.

“The Minutes,” directed by Anna D. Shapiro, is a further pointedly political play from Letts than frequent. “August: Osage County,” “Bug” and “Linda Vista” all flirted with factors, nevertheless didn’t go there like his latest does. I’m glad the playwright tries one factor new proper right here, even when the fireworks don’t go off as deliberate.

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I solely need the twist was aliens.