Closed 1h 35m
Public Servant
Midtown W

Public Servant NYC Reviews and Tickets

(98 Reviews)
Members say
Relevant, Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Slow

About the Show

Theater Breaking Through Barriers kicks off its 40th Anniversary season with this world premiere drama by Bekah Brunstetter ("This Is Us") about a county commissioner and a woman who needs his help.

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Member Reviews (98)

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Indulgent, Edgy, Funny, Ambitious

See it if A show that starts out fine but spirals after an hour. Good set design and lighting and Ed 's role is well done.

Don't see it if If you dont want a show that gets needlessly political. If you dont want a political show that is pointless in its politics.

Sincere, Amusing, Ambitious, Quirky, Relevant

See it if you're a fan of TBTB, enjoy slight but edgy works, interested in civic vs. individual responsibilities, family relations, like optimism

Don't see it if not interested in issues faced by the disabled or out of touch elected officials, don't like father-daughter stories or awkward set changes

Critic Reviews (16)

June 11th, 2019

“’Public Servant’ is the second part of a trilogy that started with Ms. Brunstetter’s ‘The Cake’...The new play is about parenthood, paternalism and what it means to work for the people...’The Cake’, though, is a more polished and organic work than ‘Public Servant’, whose plot and dialogue can seem forced...Dramaturgically, it feels engineered...It’s a handsome production, though.”
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June 6th, 2019

"A heartwarming vision of how life could be, if not a particularly enthralling drama...Although their performances feel broad, the three actors fully commit to each beat...Director Geordie Broadwater crafts some tender moments between the actors, but it's not enough to compensate for a sluggish production...Brunstetter wraps everything up in an almost ludicrously happy conclusion."
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June 7th, 2019

“Under Geordie Broadwater's direction, the action ambles at an unhurried pace, taking time for moments of insight into three sadly deprived lives...And sometimes Brunstetter's throwaway sense of humor casts a strangely revealing light...The cast is adept at inhabiting this scratchy, solitary trio of lost souls...But ‘Public Servant’ is dogged by a certain falsity, a problem not helped by an eleventh-hour scene.”
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June 6th, 2019

"Edmund T. Morris' white picket fence that greets us inside Theatre Row for Theatre Breaking Through Barriers' world premiere of 'Public Servant' may not initially impress us, but it proves before long to be the ideal metaphor for Bekah Brunstetter's gripping play - it's both deceptively simple and deceptively smart.
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June 7th, 2019

“’Public Servant' attempts to combine two separate and unconnected stories, twisting the play out of shape in order to join them...The two stories not only seem unrelated but it is rather contrived...The play is to be complimented for giving work to actors who might be marginalized but without the story being solely about those issues but making it part of the lives of the characters...Nevertheless, the cast is quite engaging and sympathetic."
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June 18th, 2019

"The evident awkwardness and discomfort the characters display regarding Miriam’s CP, and their discussions with her about it, allow 'Public Servant' to tackle misconceptions and stereotypes head-on without ever becoming too preachy or PC. This accomplishment is one of the strongest aspects of the production...'Public Servant,' much like a TV drama, is quick to pivot towards a happy ending and a heart-warming message."
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June 7th, 2019

“Brunstetter throws Ed, Hannah, and Miriam together at critical moments in their lives...But the play winds up without a strong single central core. It becomes about the intermingled relationships between the three of them...There is a lot of heart, there is a lot of truth, but I missed some humor which was only sparsely in evidence...One of the things she absolutely aced was the character of Miriam whom she endowed with Cerebral Palsy.”
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June 7th, 2019

“Worthy and worthwhile new play...’Public Servant’ feels similar to 'This Is Us' in the way it weaves in social/political issues gently into the characters’ lives, and how it shares with that show its emotional and optimistic approach: The individuals are each sad and flawed but loving; they have problems, they have disagreements, there will be losses and sacrifices, but if they can support one another as a family/a community, things will work out at the end.”
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June 9th, 2019

"A homey comedy-drama--neither particularly comedic or dramatic…The characters…are all good-hearted exemplars of the play's theme, that people should help other people…Like so much else in this low-keyed play, tears may flow but they do so with barely any sense of dramatic tension. 'Public Servant' has its heart in the right place but it lacks emotional punch, garners few laughs, and loses any sense of a focused dramatic purpose…A sharper production might have helped."
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June 10th, 2019

"The play is appealingly low key and realistic. It’s also a positive take on humanity’s basic instincts, something in short supply these days...Director Geordie Broadwater handles frequent entrances and exits with good timing and innate purpose, emphasizing the vicissitudes of character’s lives. In fact, nothing on stage looks or sounds false except slightly fluctuating accents."
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June 22nd, 2019

"The entire play wants to do the right thing. But the strain of doing so shows in its improbable plot developments and its unrealistic denouement. It's not that people don't change their minds or find a place of compromise but it's not unrealistic to expect our playwrights to wrestle with how they get there. Here they just suddenly and inexplicably do...I expect more intellectual rigor from my theater and 'Public Servant' fails to deliver on that."
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June 6th, 2019

"Directed by Geordie Broadwater, the pacing is slow and the mood is agonizing, as the characters interact, reveal their backstories, and deal with their unhappy lives, unsettled circumstances, and predictably overlapping situations...'Public Servant' addresses basic everyday issues of the human condition, the choices we make in life and politics, and the need for mutual support and empathy in order to make a positive difference. In so doing, it accomplishes TBTB’s mission."
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June 8th, 2019

"'Public Servant' is being marketed according to its writer, Bekah Brunstetter, because of her affiliation with 'This Is Us,' and the play has its sappy, tear-jerking moments. Hence, I was happy. Moreover, like the show, Bekah plots her storylines and desired outcomes like seeds between characters’ bonds; building upon the notion that humanity can only better through humanity. "
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June 7th, 2019

"I’m reminded of the old maxim 'Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes' and I think the play truly succeeds at conveying that message, particularly in regard to today’s pro-life/pro-choice conundrum. And it does so with great sensitivity. All three actors deliver superb performances."
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June 8th, 2019

“’Public Servant’ started off really well...The play is a place in time on many subjects and that's where the problem lies after the first fifty minutes. Rather than put a plot line out there and expand on it, Brunstetter is slow to bring this play forward. Once the play gets its footing, it spirals in many non relevant issues. What could be a suspenseful, good show turned out to be fair at best...The writing and direction could have been a lot better."
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June 13th, 2019

“A warm, gentle discussion of women’s issues and politics...Brunstetter has given us an intelligent, moving picture of the difficulties involved when one must (as politicians must) be everything to everyone...Chris Henry Coffey is sympathetic and believable...Miriam, skillfully played by Christine Bruno...Courtney Butt’s costumes were entirely appropriate, while Edward Morris’ sets were an absolute delight...The lighting was also skillfully done and well coordinated, as was the music."
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