From the moment the audience enters the theatre to take their seat, there is a sense of being brought into a world where you are a part of something less theatrical, and more into something out of real life.
Set in an old film movie house in present day Massachusetts – the staging was incredibly authentic. Just what you would see when visiting an older movie theatre – projector room at the back, blue velvet curtains on the walls, and aged red velvet chairs facing out towards us, the audience. With the seating set this way – there was a slight question of – are we watching, or being watched?
The play begins with Avery and Sam as they enter the popcorn strewn theatre post film. This is Avery’s first day on the job and Sam is training him on the appropriate way to sweep, pick up peoples rubbish, and how to clean the candy bar upon closing. Lengthy beats are taken as these two slowly but surely sweep up the theatre. Rose, the projectionist, makes an entrance and has both Avery and Sam intrigued and on edge for slightly different reasons.
As the scenes progress, so does the insight into these characters. Their insecurities, their passions, their ideals – take form. The seemingly small tasks they have at hand contrast with the deep provocations that they experience working together. This small three, tucked away in a movie theatre, express a deeper longing and acknowledgement of the larger humanity – in its faults, its loves, idealisms, facades, and its solitary nature.
The writing is excellent – moving, funny, and thoughtful. Annie Baker’s script also allows the actors to have moments that are not only real, but plausible, which draws the audience further into the lives of Avery, Sam and Rose. The underlying tensions of each character were urgent and fascinating and the naturalism of this piece as a whole was sensational.
Rose is a survivor, a rebel, and unafraid to express herself without filter. Played by Mia Lethbridge, this performance is robust, alive, unpredictable and a total delight to watch.
Avery, in his early 20’s, is taking a break from school for health reasons and picking up this job instead. He has a particular introversion, an underlying anxiety and perhaps a trauma that he is trying to overcome. His deep passion for film is highly intelligent, and also perhaps, his perfect way to escape from the everyday hypocrisy he finds in humanity. Avery was played with sensitive finesse by Justin Amankwah – thoroughly engaging.
Avery: ‘Hey. What do you wanna, like… What do you wanna like be when you grow up?”
Sam: ‘I am grown up. ‘
Sam, in his mid-thirties, is in need of more purpose in his life – through work, or even through love. Jeremy Waters delivers Sam with a beautiful authenticity.
The cameo performance by Matt Cheetham as Skylar and Dreaming Man – though small in part – was very memorable.
Superbly directed by Craig Baldwin, this is the second Annie Baker play brought to Sydney stages by Outhouse Theatre Company.
The Flick is on until 21 April, for more information see: www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/the-flick/
Featuring: Justin Amankwah, Jeremy Waters, Mia Lethbridge, Matt Cheetham
Creative/Tech Team: Annie Baker (writer), Craig Baldwin (director), Outhouse Theatre Co (producer), Hugh O’Connor (set design), Nate Edmondson (sound composition & design), Martin Kinnane (lighting design), Steph Kelly (stage manager) and Felix Johnson (production manager).