THE MINUTES – Written by Tracy Letts; Directed by Christy Montour-Larson. Produced by Curious Theatre Company (1080 Acoma, Denver) through October 14. Tickets available at 303-623—524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was married to a Denver police officer for 16 years; I understand the whole US versus THEM mentality that arises within groups that feel isolated by circumstances. Additionally, I was neck deep in politics for way too long back in the 80’s and 90’s – a double dose of US against THEM. Interactions with City Council members furthered my education in the fine art of quid pro quo.
So I felt prepared to enjoy Curious’ latest offering about a small-town City Council.
It is a clear-cut reckoning of village politics. The wavering coalitions built around very specific and personal issues can fall apart at the turn of a phrase. The use of personal information or history to garner votes for a pet project is common. The instinctive nature to “go along to get along” prevails. But occasionally, someone just feels the necessity to draw a line in the sand.
The nature of this political work is bounced back and forth in the beginning for awhile to introduce us to the characters and their place in the pecking order. The “neutral” figure in all the wrangling is Ms. Johnson (Ilasiea Gray) whose job it is to take and report the minutes of each meeting. With cold deliberation, she reads the minutes of the last meeting detailing what happened to the absent Mr. Carp (Eric Sandvold). A monument is being discussed to further honor the local “hero,” a pioneer credited with saving the life of a village girl from “savages” who kidnapped her.
When the truth emerges, a very different tale is told. Letts has taken a hard look at the growth of America and re-visited it in the microcosm of one small village. How accurate is our history as detailed in literature and movies? Upon whose back did America grow? Did Washington really chop down a cherry tree? Was Abe as Honest as everyone thinks? Did Native Americans earn their depiction as savages? Does learning the truth of history change how we interact today? What do we lose by acknowledging that things were not reported accurately?
There is much to take away from this production. Almost too much to think about. It is cast beautifully with some of the most talented company members of Curious. No one does mean like William Hahn. Or bumbling like Jim Hunt. Or ‘deer in the headlights’ like Josh Robinson. Or earnest like Eric Sandvold. Micheal McNeill is a formidable Mayor while Ilasiea Gray is a determined Council Clerk. Everyone fulfills their part in this puzzle satisfactorily. One can only imagine the amount of analysis and discussion that went into making the script illustrative. While there are hints along the way – an unrelenting rain, lightning that makes the lights flicker off and on, drums quietly providing faint background music – nothing can prepare you for the last three or four minutes of the production. And leave you wondering what is he going to do? More importantly, what would you do?
You’ll talk about this one for a long time and either love it or hate it. But isn’t that the point.
A WOW factor of 9!!