A masterclass in how to pace drama, Outhouse Theatre’s adaptation of Annie Baker’s ‘The Flick’ is one of the must-see plays of the year.
Opening on a cinema flooded with the closing credits of a film, a near mirror reflection of the Seymour Centre’s own Reginald theatre, two employees glacially scour the isles for popcorn and choc-tops. Several minutes of silence, counter-intuitively one of the most captivating segments of the piece, set the tone beautifully for the machinations between the pair, one of whom is new on the scene, and the theatre’s projectionist who sits high above.
This is not the first time Outhouse have adapted Baker’s work, with Director Craig Baldwin too having staged ’The Aliens’ at The Old Fitz in 2015. ‘The Flick,’ a Pulitzer Prize winning play, improves dramatically on Baker’s signature haunting silences and finite focus on a trio of well-drawn characters. This production conversely ditches the monologues for an extended collage of interactions, foibles, flaws and fascinating dynamics.
What is nonetheless a tad lengthy and explicated at times, clocking in at three hours due to a supremely patient focus on one vignette after another, still has you wanting to know more about these characters by the end. Justin Amankwah, in what is to the performer’s enormous credit his stage debut, is a duly sympathetic, at times challenging figure to engage with and from whom you won’t want to turn away. The character’s and for that matter the creators’ own evident knowledge and love of cinema, elaborated on throughout the play, is a special treat for film buffs that will no doubt be reflected in many of this production’s patrons.
Mia Lethbridge and Jeremy Waters, the latter a veteran of The Aliens and evoking a figure all too relatable and pathos-ridden, are similarly involving in their respective roles. Lethbridge, who maintains a strong stage presence even when she is not the main fixture, manages both the play’s subdued and tenser moments with deft capability.
The excellent set design underlines with some nuance how much each character’s travails and the film/theatre-going experience more generally are reflections of our own. This aspect of the staging errs only by putting us at a remove during the few sequences that transpire in the heights of the projection room. Largely shielded from view, a greater insight into the key moments which elapse here would not have gone amiss.
A superbly crafted piece of theatre that more than just about any will get under your skin, ‘The Flick’ is one to catch.
by Annie Baker
5 – 21 APR 2018
Presented by Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre