I’m sorry that I can’t come up with a more creative title for this post about Annie Baker’s The Flick, but it is hard to come up with a joke about everyday life. Actually, when we studied this text while we were back in Fayetteville, we grouped it in with a genre called “Comedy and the Mundane,” and it is indeed, mundane. This 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning play is a very American concept. It depicts three people all stuck at the same job in a run down movie theater. Sam, 35, is stuck in a dead-end job, doomed never to be promoted and sill living with his parents. Rose, 24, doesn’t have much going for her except her looks, which she covers up with baggy clothes. Avery, 20, a movie loving kid who took this job for some extra income while taking a semester off from college. The action isn’t much, just some polo-ed employees sweeping up after messy patrons, but what the script lacks in stage directions, it makes up for in heart felt human interactions that remind us that we all have problems. We’re all messed up, so be kind, be understanding, and above all, try to be a friend.
I had very low expectations for this production. Unfortunately, this was due to the fact that I was burned by the last three hour show that we saw. And I know, I shouldn’t let my opinion of one show influence my opinion of a completely different show, but in my defense, my faculty members did slightly undersell this production when we were discussing it in Fay. So, that being said, The Flick exceeded my expectations. The script has many moments of built in silence, so the run time ended up being nearly three and a half hours, but it didn’t feel to me like it was dragging on at any point. At first, I could tell that many audience members were uncomfortable with the long stretches of silence, finding any excuse to let out a laugh, but as time went on, we all became more comfortable with the idea of the silence. This is real life that we are watching. Maybe the reason the silence is uncomfortable is because we are forced to face the reality that our lives are not as exciting as we make them out to be on Facebook or Instagram. Our lives are inevitably filled with long stretches of silence. We see ourselves in this script, and that makes us feel something that we don’t want to, whether that is sadness or fear.
Set, lights, costumes, and sound were all very simple and effective at portraying a run of the mill movie theater. Overall, I would say that the director had a very clear and consistent vision of the themes that he wanted to get across. This play is very comedic and cathartic and makes you think a lot about how your actions affect other people. It also makes you think about modern issues. Such topics as social media and its influence on everyday life, the celluloid v. digital debate, and awareness about depression, mental retardation, and other psychological disorders are all touched on throughout the play. It is an amusing and sometimes painful reminder that life is funny and not always pretty.