Some shows suffer from a lack of chemistry, others from a bad set, or a clichéd concept. The Flick suffers from none of these things. Instead, The Flick gives us a truly great play – at a snail’s pace.
Following the struggle of three underemployed movie theatre ushers, Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a slow-burn tragi-comedy that examines the dissonance between passion and self-service in an increasingly impersonal digital world.
Avery is a passionate introvert enthralled by his celluloid heroes, while Rose and Sam are just trying to get by. Their tenuous relationships are tested when new manager discovers the employees’ tradition of reselling tickets to line their own pockets, causing a rift between those in it for the love of the theatre, and those that are in it for themselves. The Flick is a microcosm of our post-film fall from grace – a world where those who favour hand-crafted skill are derided as “selfish”.
The Flick is a microcosm of our post-film fall from grace – a world where those who favour hand-crafted skill are derided as “selfish”.
Leads Jesse Reid, Shannon Chan-Kent, and Haig Sutherland bring a grace and realism to their characters, creating an air of voyeurism to the story that is deeply enticing. The final confrontation is so well acted that you may very well find yourself “flicking” your support between even the more reprehensible viewpoints. Shannon Chan-Kent does an especially deft job of making a foul-mouthed narcissist not only relatable, but borderline heroic, and Haig Sutherland brings a wonderfully subtle performance as Sam.
Lauchlin Johnston’s set design is beautifully crafted, perfectly echoing the single screen cinemas of small town USA. The time it takes the actors to move from the main set to the projectionist’s booth above though, contributed to the show’s one flaw, its length.
While The Flick is a great play, with no lack of theme, plot, or character, it does suffer from an overabundance of time. Extended bouts of silent sweeping, blackouts to reset the items that need to be swept, and a three hour run time place a great play in the cradle of average theatre. No amount of chemistry between the actors or brilliant set design can wholly overcome the pacing heat-death that is a single man mopping.
The Flick by Annie Baker. Directed by Dean Paul Gobson. An Arts Club Theatre presentation on stage at the Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver) until October 29. Visit https://artsclub.com for tickets and information.