Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Flick presents hopes and aspirations in a tiny movie theater.


Gen Y Productions presents The Flick written by Annie Baker and was the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and 2013 Obie Award for Play writing. The Flick Premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2013 and will run at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL) starting today through July 12.

Bonnie Sprung designed the set for The Flick. She confided that the theater seats were rented from the recently closed Theater Downtown. The sconces on set are actually the bases to lava lamps. She was busy cutting and building the set right up until the rehearsal started. This was the first run through in the new space. Producer Aaron Safer arranged to get me in for the sketch.

The play is set in a single screen movie theater in Central Massachusetts that has the last remaining 35mm film projector. Sam (Daniel Cooksley) shows Avery (Marcellis Cutler) the ropes of the job on Avery's first day at the job. The job simply involves cleaning up the wrappers and refuge people left behind after leaving the movie theater. Rose (Jessie Grossman) with her bright green hair is the projectionist and Sam feels he should have been promoted to that coveted position. He shouts up to her and she either can't hear him or ignored him. "She hates me" Sam confides to Avery. When Rose came down from the booth, she asks Sam if he told Avery about the employee "dinner money" tradition. The "dinner money" was skimmed from ticket sales without the owners knowledge. Avery agonized in the front row with his head in his hands but ultimately gave in, not wanting to upset his co-workers.

Scene after scene plays out in the empty theater. Sam told a story about how a huge chunk of the ceiling once fell down landing just inches from an old lady. Sam and Avery play a game of six degrees of separation as they clean and it turns out that Avery in an encyclopedia of film knowledge. A love triangle develops as Rose comes on strong to Avery. The flirting escalates to an embarrassing moment when they watch a film together after hours. Each of the characters is a misfit. Avery once tried to kill himself, Rose is unable to have a relationship for more than four months, and Sam rides along as if the theater job was his only aspiration in life. Rose was appealing with her brash accent and bold entrances. She later turned on Avery and it became clear that every character was strictly looking after their own interests. Friendships aren't as strong as the need for a minimum wage paycheck. One of my favorite scenes is when Avery recites Ezekiel 25:17 from Pulp Fiction. The drama among the employees turned out to be bigger than the dramas that played out on the big screen. I cared deeply for each character hoping they might find happiness but in this fast changing world, that hope seems mercurial. The digital age made the 35mm projector obsolete. Avery in particular yearned to keep the analog tradition of projected film alive. It turned out that if you don't need a projector. You don't need a projectionist. Everyone wants more for less and quality isn't necessarily the ideal.

Kenny Howard directed the Orlando cast and I liked that there were long moments where characters had time to think and reflect. Action on a movie screen happens at a break neck pace with maybe 2 seconds before cutting to a new shot. But the action after the film ended felt more real, imperfect and more heart felt.  These characters weren't playing their parts, they were simply living in the moment. At three hours, this is a long show. Turn off those cellphones and unwrap those wrappers and don't leave a mess because someone has to clean up after you.

Show dates: June 17-July12, 2015
Show times vary
Tickets start at $35.00
Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater
Lobby Doors open 60 minutes prior to show time.
Theater Doors open 30 minutes prior to show time.

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