QPAC & Red Stitch Actors
February 10 – March 5 2017
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
One of the last old movie houses in America to use 35mm film, The Flick in Massachusetts, becomes a microcosm of the world when three young people show up to their shifts in their dead-end jobs. And that’s really all they’re doing; showing up and showing each other who they think they are and who/what/where they want to be when they “grow up”. We’re struck by their humanity, and the simple intimacies revealed in Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writing.
…she writes in a way there doesn’t seem to be one defining moment where that transition takes place. It’s more like you watch the play and you feel really moved, something shifts inside but you can’t pinpoint when it happens, really powerful, that’s more like life.
– Ngaire Dawn Faire
The Flick is acclaimed Director, Nadia Tass, honing in on the delicacy and vulnerability of the human condition, moving her actors through the space as if they belong there, as if they are really there and we are not. This is what theatre can be, and what fourth-wall theatre is supposed to be, but very often is not.
The run-down, down-and-out aesthetic is expertly, lovingly created by Shaun Gurton (set), David Parker (lighting), Russell Goldsmith (sound) and Daniel Nixon (sound & AV).
Featuring the exquisite talent and insight of Kevin Hofbauer (Avery), Ben Prendergast (Sam) and Ngaire Dawn Faire (Rose), with appearances by Dion Mills (Skylar / Dreaming Man), Tass’s production of The Flick was always going to be one of the most highly anticipated and richly rewarding plays in QT’s 2017 season. It exceeds expectations.
AN EXQUISITELY OBSERVED MEDITATION ON LOVE AND CHANGE
When Rose appears in the golden light of the projection box I see her dark hair and her pointed chin and her pale skin and she’s my brother’s wife…ex-wife. But not. But hot tears stream down my cheeks anyway because I forgave her so long ago and never told her. And we loved her so much. Still, we love her. From across an ocean and right in the middle of all our lives, as humans do. And I take a breath, and when she reappears it’s through the old red swinging doors and onto the stage and into the brighter white ugly lights of the cinema between the seats, and she says something, which is funny, and we laugh, and the conversation and the scene continues, and she’s just, beautifully, Rose. It’s theatre. It finds a way to reach right into your heart and not let go if you let it.
In this way, incrementally, The Flick lures us in and holds us in space and time, a continuum that stretches across hours – 3 hours – and we don’t notice how long we’ve been sitting there, in the darkness, on the other side of the movie screen. The closing credits of each old film flicker above us, projected onto the ceiling of the Cremorne, each time indicating the break between sessions, during which the employees sweep the floor and take out the trash. It’s so ordinary and lovely and hopeful and silently , secretly devastating, and for me, a gentle reminder to value the people in our circles for whatever it is they have to offer. And what do we offer them? What value do we add to the lives of the people around us?
Avery joins the small circle of friends as a new employee, is shown the ropes by Sam, and they too become friends, picking up discarded popcorn together, discussing favourite films and marvelling over the projectionist, Rose. They play a neat game, citing the degrees of separation between two actors at a time. They quote Ezekiel 25:17 as per Pulp Fiction. They resell movie tickets to make their dinner money. When a love triangle develops, things get complicated, and when Sam has a weekend off to attend his brother’s wedding, things get more complicated. When Sam returns, the final outcome seems very simple and regrettable, and real. It’s fascinating, the way alliances form and dissolve, isn’t it? And I can’t imagine a more satisfying and disturbing ending to bring the message home.