The Flick is a new play by the very talented Annie Baker, now at Playwrights Horizon Theater. While there were a number of admirable qualities about the piece and the production, it wandered slowly and randomly into the night.
|Matthew Maher and Aaron Clifton Moten in Annie Baker's new play The Flick|
The action takes place in a shabby, single screen theater in Massachusetts, a wonderful set by David Zinn. With row after row of stained, reddish-burgundy seats - empty after each performance, the set gives off the flavor of desperation and loneliness. Two of the main characters, Sam and Avery, enter after each show to sweep up and discuss life as only listless young men can.
Sam, well played by Matthew Maher, has been at the theater for a long time and teaches newbie Avery the ins and outs of the job. It is a small theater, still showing by projector instead of digital, and the guys have to sweep up popcorn, soda and whatever else the spoiled patrons leave, before they can head back out to the box office and candy counter. Sam has a litany of complaints against the customers, the management and life in general.
Aaron Clifton Moten plays Avery, fresh as a baby seal. Avery has dropped out of college and is kind of "floating around" right now. He has followed his love of movies to this outpost where digital hasn’t taken over yet. Avery and Sam bond over life’s indignities, games of 6 degrees of separation (which Avery has a encyclopedic knowledge of) and a passion to run the big projector.
The job of projectionist (which Sam thinks should rightfully be his) is held by Rose. Rose is a venerable young woman, hidden under a mass of black t-shirt and green hair. Louisa Krause plays Rose with the right amount of tenderness and tentativeness for the character. Rose is always almost approachable.
There are some wane passes made and connections missed, which shows how hard it is for people now to connect emotionally. But the action is spread so thinly, across so much time, that it is hardly worth the effort.
There is the spark of an amazing idea in The Flick. The idea that we have lost something magical in the rush from the old to the digital, that the flicker image left a deeper impression. But the glacial pace of the show drowns the idea, slowly. It is the theatrical equivalent of Woody Allen’s September. Perhaps the idea is just that, a great idea that can’t support an entire evening – particularly one with an intermission.
The Flick – Playwrights Horizon (website)
Playwright: Annie Baker
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Alex Hanna, Louise Krause, Matthew Maher, Aaron Clifton Morten