I should have known had I really looked at the poster art on the marquee of Studio 54 for Broadway’s The Minutes, what this superb piece of writing by the fantastically gifted playwright and actor, Tracey Letts (Mary Page Marlowe; August: Osage County; Man From Nebraska) was aiming itself at. But walking in, I did not. Which, once again is a god-sent, if you ask me. Letts not only wrote this fascinating play but also takes somewhat center stage playing Mayor Superba, head honcho at this small town city council meeting where the play all takes place, and makes his mark in the dynamics as black and blood red as humanly possible. Don’t take that too literally, because the play itself, wrapped in sharp situational wit and humor, isn’t some obvious thread, but a much slyer tumultuous experience. Letts isn’t going to let you see what’s there, right before our eyes, until he wants you too. And even then, you’ll have to do some processing to decide how you see it all went down. He might tease us all with the interior concepts and ideals that will be unmasked, but don’t get too comfortable thinking this is going to be straight forward.
It’s a dark and stormy evening in Big Cherry, the town at the center of the play. Naturally, the name of the town, and really everyone in this well formulated play has an undercurrent of meaning, but it is on that night when a dozen or so elected members float in, one by one, for its weekly city council meeting to discuss all that is on the list to discuss when things really do get messy. It’s a pretty simple set-up though, almost to the bitter twisted end, give or take. Stolen bikes are discussed, as well as a major redesign of the town park, with the center piece being a statue commemorating the history of the town itself. With a wild little reinactment thrown in for some fun (or is it just for fun?), the seats are filled by these town representatives, and a series of events within the meeting start to unfold as they should, as planned, at least for the time being.