Photos – Marnya Rothe
The best seats in the house are for the cast. Not that they sit in them much.
Welcome to The Flick, a Worcester, Massachusetts movie theatre, home to one of the last motion picture projectors in the state. The Flick is a dinosaur in the digital age, owned by an unseen proprietor and operated by a sassy projectionist and two general hands who clean and run the box office and the candy concession. Here among the spilled popcorn and soda, plush seats and curtains, these three underpaid, under appreciated underlings chew the fat and shoot the breeze over the seemingly mundane minutiae of their everyday lives interspersed with movie trivia games.
Avery is the newbie, a twenty year old film buff who takes the minimum wage job so he can indulge his maximum passion. So passionate about pictures is he that rebuffs an erotic encounter while watching The Wild Bunch. He'd rather see Peckinpah than have his pecker palmed. He’s a motion picture purist, a celluloid zealot who determines digital an abomination. He also maintains there hasn’t been an American film masterpiece since Pulp Fiction.
The older hand, middle thirties Sam, is less pure in his picture going tastes, citing Avatar as a classic. Still living at home and a love sick puppy silently panting for Rose, Sam is a sad sack unskilled labourer who pines for promotion from purveyor of popcorn to film projectionist.
The third protagonist is the projectionist, Rose, a thorn in Sam's romantic side especially when she takes a shine to Avery.
The Flick is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and this is a winning production. In his programme notes, director Craig Baldwin states: “connecting with the fullness of each other’s humanity takes time…investment, patience and detailed care.” He has certainly invested patience and detailed care in this production and the pay-off is grand.
He and his cast “get” playwright Annie Baker's intention of the slow cooking of these characters, the various ingredients that go into their making, the way each compliment and contrast one another, and how the stew of life rarely follows the recipe.
Making his stage debut as Avery, Justin Amankwah busts his theatre cherry with a sensitive portrayal of a young man finding truth and solace in the cinema, something he finds cruelly absent in the real world. Mia Lethbridge as the cougar kitten, Rose, plays a cool predator, feline slinky with spine bending agility who can morph into a bulldog stubborn belt unbuckler when her dance of seduction fails to get the desired result. Jeremy Waters wonderfully pitches Sam as the world and work weary wounded would be paramour of the projectionist, dulled by disappointment and dead end jobs, as inept at internet dating on the rebound as he is in face to face romantic intention.
A little icing on top comes from cameo characterisations by Matthew Cheetham as a cinema patron who snoozes through Out of Africa in the first act then plays the wide eyed and bushy tailed trainee in the second.
Hugh O’Connor’s set design is slay ‘em in the aisles perfect with red seats, purple curtains, old style picture palace fixtures and trim, and an operating bio-box. Martin Kinnane’s lights illuminate the physical world of the cinema with simulated flickering from projection box and house lights and also intelligently illuminate the emotional and psychological states and situations. Nate Edmonson’s sound composition and design evokes reels and sprockets and epic soundtracks.
Epic in the magic it conjures from the mundane, The Flick shows that the problems of three little people DO amount to a lot more than a hill of beans in this crazy world.
by Annie Baker
Director Craig Baldwin
Venue: Reginald Theatre | Seymour Centre NSW
Dates: 5 – 21 April 2018
Tickets: $42 – $35