Open Theatre’s production of The Flick was directed by Abby Barker and is adapted from the 2013 play by Annie Baker. It follows three cinema employees who are stuck with the mundane job of cleaning popcorn and projecting films in a fading movie theatre in Worcester County, Massachusetts. When the new employee Avery arrives, tension starts to arise, and secrets unfold. This adaptation successfully delivered a powerful blend of awkwardly funny moments and strong scenes of thought-provoking emotion.
Walking into the Alec Clegg Studio I felt strangely disorientated as I saw audience members sat in rows on the stage. I quickly realised that the stage was in fact made up on the conventional audience seating, as it perfectly resembled a segment of a cinema auditorium. Accompanied by a black back panel with a small hole for the projector, this set design was simple yet immersive, and the floor in front of me littered with rubbish helped to make it feel like I was observing a very real situation.
The Flick is an entirely dialogue driven piece, which relies completely on the stamina and strength of its actors; this adaptation had exactly the acting strength it needed. Lewis Fraser (Sam), Ejiro Imiruaye (Avery) and Franky Lynn (Rose) all did a fantastic job in keeping the audience engaged with their impressive performances, all whilst (mostly) maintaining a North-Eastern American accent. It has to be said though that the star of the show was Imiruaye, whose singular moments of dialogue were incredibly moving and a joy to watch.
As a group too, their quick rapport was funny when it wanted to be and touching when it needed. This said though, there were several moments where the pauses in between lines did seem awkwardly long, which could be down to the sometimes slow changes in lighting to indicate a scene ending, or simply a directorial choice for dramatic effect. These pauses were still few and far between. Of course, the utilisation of the skill of the actors was brought about by director Abby Barker, who made great use of the set’s layout and of the ability of her cast. The choices she made in the placement of the three actors throughout the play as well as their shifting interactions with one another kept the play and its characters convincing from start to
Overall, Open Theatre’s adaptation of The Flick captivated the struggles of wanting more out of life than you can grasp, as well as letting go of the old for the new. It was an unexpectedly moving piece that left me with lots to think about after, achieved by the great strengths of all involved.
Image credit: stage.leeds.ac.uk