Monday, February 23, 2015

The Flick

Play #32 - The Flick by Annie Baker

The Flick is the name of a single screen movie house in Massachusetts - one of the few that still boasts an actual film projector instead of a digital one. Avery (20 years old) is an idealistic movie buff who has just started working there - he's being trained by Sam (35). From time to time, they chat with the projectionist, Rose (24). Not much really happens per se. There's a sense of routine, a sense of stagnation, a sense of the collision between people who still dream, and people who have settled for a more practical world view. Or is it just that they have figured out how to dream in achievable ways? There is joking and flirting and confiding and frustration and arguing. And by the end, when their lousy boss sells the theatre to a businessman who replaces the old projector with a digital one, Avery moves on with renewed momentum but a numb cynicism, leaving Sam and Rose to soldier on as they have been, but perhaps more honestly and happily than they had been.

Sometimes I'm not sure what to think about Pulitzer Prize winners. I'm fairly certain that my expectations are not the same as the committee's. I tend to want my Pulitzer plays to do something dramaturgically exciting, so when a highly touted play is too straightforward, I question it. Then I think about the fact that Pulitzer winning plays are supposed to reflect some key idea about this particular moment in American life. So with both of these criteria in mind, I can't say I am certain why The Flick was chosen. I'm not saying it's a bad play - to the contrary, there's a lot of charm to the script. I would absolutely suggest it to undergraduates looking for scenes or monologues. And I would be very interested to see a production - partly to see how the theatre itself is able to become a character. It's a well crafted, lovely sort of play, one that I think would be very entertaining, if not particularly revolutionary. But who's to say that that's not enough?

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