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  • InPlay Capital Region

Albany Civic Theatre’s “The Minutes” and the truth about America

Updated: Feb 27

By Sophie Yalkezian

Sitting on a quiet residential block, you could easily miss the old firehouse facade of the Albany Civic Theatre (ACT). 

Beyond its worn red block lettering is a theatrical institution that’s been churning out an impressive rotation of productions since its inception back in 1955. We were lucky enough to catch their latest show, a dark comedy penned by “August: Osage County” writer Tracy Letts, titled “The Minutes.” 

Beyond the laughs, this play asks its audience to reexamine their unavoidable role in the societal institutions that hold our communities together. Over the course of an hour and 45 minutes, the audience witnessed a droll city council meeting in the fictional town of Big Cherry slowly reveal the darkest truths of the American political landscape, exemplifying why it’s so hard to fight for change, let alone enact it, from the comfortable seat of privilege. 

The experienced cast gave stellar performances, from Alexandra Doggette playing mousy court clerk Johnson to Patrick White’s full-throated hilarity in the role of Councilman Assalone (pronounced Ass-a-lon-ay, which he repeated to the crowd’s delight). Ryan Palmer and Gary Hoffmann brought incredible comedic timing to their council member characters, who were equal parts irksome and beloved.

The heart of this story centers around newcomer councilman Peel, gracefully played by Kevin O’Toole in his ACT mainstage debut. His plucky charm and hearty handshakes had the audience rooting for him as he unpeeled the layers of a controversial history the council was attempting to keep closed. 

Humor sharply cut through tension a number of times throughout the night, including when Aaron Moore’s councilman Blake earnestly argued for a cage match-style fight called the “Lincoln Smackdown” to be performed at the town festival. 

Near its conclusion, the theater turned still as Bill Douglas delivered a stunning monologue as councilman Carp. His character exists only in flashback, as a past transcript is read, but manages to steal the show entirely with his candor and warmth. His words evoke the question held at the center of this play: What kind of community do we create when we ignore the truth? 

“The Minutes” runs through March 3. Tickets can be purchased on their website at


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