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BWW Review: Pulitzer Prize Winner THE FLICK Gets First Rate Hyde Park Production

THE FLICK is the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning play by Annie Baker that also won the 2013 Obie Award for Playwriting. Set in a run down old movie palace called The Flick, the action of the play concerns three low wage ushers: newbie Avery (Delanté G. Keys), veteran Sam (Shanon Weaver) and film projectionist Rose, (Katie Kohler), who are responsible for the tedious labor that keeps the place running, from cleaning up spilled drinks from the floors to taking tickets. The show is a comedy of the mundane - the everyday annoyances and frustrations of the workplace.

The structure of Baker's script delivers bits of conversation that might be considered insignificant; yet, show a keen insight into the ways people mess up their lives. In fact, the script is quite cleverly constructed in the same way as celluloid itself: individual images separated by little bits of black. Baker's writing captures quite brilliantly that workplace banter that stops just short of actual friendship. She has created characters that are rich in personal detail with nuanced dialogue that presents the audience with three suburbanite underachievers who haltingly make contact with each other as best they can to relieve the drudgery and repetitiveness of their jobs. Through small games of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and discussions of plans outside of the work environment, these characters divulge their fears, insecurities and hopes to present an unconventional and extremely compelling story about the comedy and poignancy of every day life.

In post-industrial America, where upward mobility has been replaced with getting by and job security has been replaced with the very real possibility of losing your job at a moment's notice, THE FLICK has as much to say about the landscape of the American worker today as Death of a Salesman did when it was first produced. THE FLICK just happens to be funny as well as touching.

Director Ken Webster has done a great job with this work, keeping the focus on these three very different underachievers through deadpan pacing and remarkably open and emotionally raw performances.

Delanté G. Keys is superb as Avery, the social misfit who lives with his dad and is on a mission to keep the theatre from going to digital projection. He has many first-rate moments in the show; however, his cell phone call with his analyst is absolutely heart breaking.

Shanon Weaver is outstanding as Sam, the 35 year old who has the most tenure but keeps getting passed over for the job as projectionist. This is only made worse by his unfulfilled love for Rose, the person who got the projectionist job he felt was his due. His scene where he reveals to Avery that he is going to the wedding of his developmentally challenged brother is made all the more heartrending when we see his resentment of his brothers happiness.

Katie Kohler is marvelous as Rose, the outspoken young woman oblivious to anything but herself. She deeply wants attention, but doesn't know what to do when she actually gets some. She is more attracted to Avery than she is to Sam, and her scene after hours in the theatre with Avery is both hilarious and tragic. We briefly see very deeply into the soul of this young woman who keeps her wall up almost all of the time.

The setting for THE FLICK reverses the usual seating arrangement at Hyde Park Theatre. We, as the audience, sit where the performances usually take place and the traditional seating becomes the interior of The Flick. Robert S. Fisher has done an exceptional job with the video and sound design. Especially impressive was the differentiation between the 35 MM projector and the eventual digital projector that beams out over the audiences heads and the use of music that, while not always the theme song to a film, was a song closely associated to a film. Cheryl Painter did a nice job with the costumes, especially the appropriately hideous new uniforms after the theatre is sold.

While not traditionally theatrical in structure, THE FLICK is nonetheless an important new American play that is worthy of your time. This is nothing less than another gem in the crown of Hyde Park Theatre's long roster of important new theatre done with care and style.

THE FLICK by Annie Baker

Running time: Approximately Two Hours and Forty Minutes, including an intermission

THE FLICK, produced by Hyde Park Theatre (511 W. 43rd St, Austin, TX, 78751) Performances through August 6, 2016. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm. Thursdays are Pay What You Can Nights. Tickets: http://hydeparktheatre.org or call 512-479-PLAY (7529) for reservations.



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