Monday, March 18, 2013

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Flick

The Flick
By Annie Baker
Directed by Sam Gold
Playwrights Horizons

What's it All About?
Three workers at The Flick, one of the last 35mm movie theaters in Worcester County, MA, get to know each other a little -- and maybe not very much -- as they interact before and after the films show at the run-down theater. Sam (Matthew Maher) has been a round a while and is a little resentful that Rose (Louisa Krause) got promoted to projectionist, though she hasn't worked there very long. He shows the ropes about how to clean up popcorn, mop the floors, etc. to reserved new employee Avery (Aaron Clifton Moten).

Sam and Rose convince a reluctant Avery to join them in a ticket-shaving scheme that results in their being able to take home a few extra dollars each shift without the boss knowing about it. The three start to open up with each other a little over the weeks. Sam obviously has romantic feelings for Rose, but she is more interested in old movie buff Avery, who has an amazing ability to link films and their stars in six degrees of separation or less. Alex Hanna plays a couple of other minor characters who end up in the theater.

Questions are raised about the likelihood of getting close to people with whom we work -- or with anyone at all for that matter. How well do we really know a person, even if we see them every day? What about when someone's sense of right and wrong is totally messed up (like in the case of Rose). Everyone has a hidden side that might reveal surprising insight into motivations.

What are the Highlights?
Moten is a character study in privacy and insecurity. His almost smile as he struggles to remain in control, or to politely show appreciation for something he himself doesn't find humorous is brilliant. Lighting design by Jane Cox deserves mention. It really looks like a movie is showing thanks to the movie-seat set by David Zinn (who also designs costumes) and end-of-the-movie sound by Bray Poor.

What are the Lowlights?
The script is full of repetition and scenes that come to a virtual standstill as we watch the characters perform prolonged routine tasks. I get it. That's what happens in real life, but this is theater, and an hour easily could be trimmed from Baker's almost three-hour long script (there s one intermission). Director Sam Gold also collaborated on her plays Circle Mirror Transformation (also at Playwrights) The Aliens, as well as Baker's adaptation of Uncle Vanya. He obviously loves her stuff and indulges every word and every pause that every character has. It's kind of like visiting friends who want to show you every baby picture they have taken, assuming that you are just as interested in seeing 200 pictures of their child eating his birthday cake from every possible angle as they are. The first scene is quite possibly the most boring in theater history -- unless, of course, if you happen to be a big fan of every pause written into a script.

Characters never develop enough for us to decide whether we like them or not. At times, it is difficult to understand Maher's dialogue.

More Information:
The Flick runs through March 31 at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St., NYC. The performance schedule is Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 and 7:30 PM. Single tickets, starting at $70:, 212- 279-4200; Box Office, 416 West 42nd St. (between 9th and 10th avenues. 
Christians might also like to know:
Content includes:
-- Sexual dialogue and activity
-- Language
-- Astrology
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Suicide
-- Homosexuality


Lauren Yarger said...
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Lauren Yarger said...

Here is an interesting article from Playbill with a response to the extended pauses in this show by Playwrights' Artistic Director Tim Sanford, whom I respect a lot.
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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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