How long does it take to destroy a life?
By Andrew Andrews
Andy Rubens is one of two deputy sheriffs assigned to the security detail at the local high school.
When a student enters the building through an unguarded entrance with an assault rifle and starts picking off classmates, Rubens stands frozen against an outside wall for seventeen minutes, until his partner, Mary, subdues the assailant inside the building.
Rubens, an Iraq war veteran, claims that only a few minutes could have passed while he assessed the situation and was confused about where the shots were being fired.
Beginning a few hours after the incident, 17 Minutes tracks Rubens' downfall as he is ostracized by the entire community, which has branded him a coward.
Even though this play spares us the violent experience that sets the story into motion, 17 Minutes delivers plenty of tension and interpersonal conflict, as we watch the lead character's life fall apart, while he downplays the situation and argues with his wife, who only wants to help them move on.
The actors are expertly cast and deliver their roles with utter perfection, and I appreciate that this production doesn't try to cut costs by assigning multiple characters to any of the actors.
The set is sparse but attractive with effective lighting, and the scent of oil permeating the theater as Rubens constantly cleans his firearm is a brilliant addition to the ambiance of the performance.
The pacing of the story feels right, and although it wraps up nicely, I wish it went a bit further: I really felt invested in the future of our antihero, and with a running time of less than ninety minutes, there's room to add more without making the experience feel too long.
Even as it stands, The Barrow Group's production of Scott Organ's 17 Minutes provides complete enjoyment, exploring the multitude of perspectives that can follow from a tragic situation.
Andrew Andrews attended 17 Minutes at The Barrow Group TBG MainStage Theatre in Manhattan on Thursday, January 16, 2020 @ 7:30pm to write this review.
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