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Review | Town politics run wild in ‘The Minutes’

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Photo: Jeremy Daniel IG @JeremyDanielPhoto

“The Minutes” was a few days away from officially opening on Broadway when the shutdown began in March 2020. 

Two years later, Tracy Letts’ anarchic political comedy (which originated at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre) has returned to Broadway, albeit at a different theater and without Armie Hammer (who withdrew after allegations of sexual assault were made against him), but with many other members of the original cast including Letts himself, Austin Pendleton, Sally Murphy, Jessie Mueller, Blair Brown, and Ian Barford.

At first glance, “The Minutes” appears to be a straightforward political satire with a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” premise, in which an innocent new council member (Noah Reed) is contrasted with his crazed colleagues and a dysfunctional setting.

Halfway through, the council members reenact the story of the town’s founding, which bears a striking resemblance to the 1956 Western film “The Searchers” and functions as a kind of group strange ritual and religious ceremony. 

As the 90-minute play (sharply directed by Anna D. Shapiro) goes along, it turns increasingly bizarre, biting, and engrossing, as a debate over how to respond to a disturbing revelation about the town’s past evokes the heated backlash to “critical race theory.”

Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., theminutesbroadway.com, through July 10.

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