alexkolanko’s review published on Letterboxd:
I turn off hip hop anytime I hear it. Too much emotion and pain in the music. But now, I can get it with all the technical hallmarks of hip hop (rhyming, wordplay, flow) without any of the subject matter or emotional catharsis. Like a particularly competent and creative social studies project by an honor roll student, this is catchy and devoid of any meaning beyond cold hard facts. When a soul singer croons with the pain of a lost love I scream "This is too much" but the technically perfect crooning of the phrase "constitutional rights" flood me with endorphins.
You might be concerned that, by the natural shape of a play, it will lead to emotional reveals and meaningful symbolism, but Lin thought of everything by making sure the entire play is told in the past tense. It bounces from dry history book fact to fact with out so much as implying any motivation for any characters action. Everything has already happened, and these are the nuts and bolts of the events that unfolded told to you in verse with a boom bap beat. You will not be able to follow a characters point of view in a scene for longer than a few seconds and it will only be to get across the point that general washington was in charge. I don't want motivation I want hard facts.
Rather than creating a time capsule of 1776 it becomes a perfect time capsule of 2016. There is no discussion of politics, no thought put into what these people want for a new nation, just that one person is a good politician because he is a good person and the other is bad because he is not a good person and who cares what their actual dream for the future entails. It takes me back to a time where I was excited for a new avengers movie. It made me really see the 2016 US election clearer.
I wouldn't change a single thing. Any slight change would be disingenuous to what this is. It takes the single most important addition to pop art in the last 40 years and uses it to create something joyless yet smooth. This is pop art for the people who have never emotionally connected to music in their lives and view music and story as technical achievements. Slap on a confusing and mixed metaphor about the abstract concept of "rebellion" so that you enjoying this is a political act that puts you on, in name only, The Right Side Of History. Any slight change would be hiding that fact. This is exactly what it is meant to be.