BWW Review: Wilbury Theatre Group's THE FLICK is Fun and Unexpected

BWW Review: Wilbury Theatre Group's THE FLICK is Fun and Unexpected

Ever wonder what movie theatre employees do after the projector is shut down for the night? Well, there's a lot of sweeping, but there's also the perfect atmosphere for those types of relationships that develop when you're in your 20s working a job that is neither intellectually stimulating, nor likely to last past a certain stage in the inevitable slog toward adulthood. THE FLICK captures that sweet spot of drama that's not life or death; romances that seem to be based more on proximity than actual feelings, but still feel VERY IMPORTANT; and trying to learn your role in a system that's ever changing. On its surface, the tension in this play seems a bit low-stakes, but the talented cast managed to win our hearts and take the audience back to a simpler time when everything is ahead of you, but the big picture is a bit scary, so you focus instead on the smaller, more manageable things.

THE FLICK takes place in a run down movie theatre in Worcester, MA, so there are many, many delightful regional references sure to pique the interest of any Rhode Islander. This production has the added bonus of being performed in the Cable Car Cinema instead of Wilbury's regular theatre at Sonoma Ct. Being in the Cable Car, watching actors pretend to be theatre employees immediately makes the whole situation feel 100% real, even though the audience is sat on chairs with their backs to the movie screen. The space of the Cable Car, including the projection booth, is the stage, and aside from a couple instances of awkward blocking, it all works incredibly well.

Since this is a simple setup, the cast need to work well together to make this story come to life, and thankfully they do. Director Wendy Overly let Dave Rabinow's (Sam) natural humor shine though, and his comic timing, and everyman charm are delightful as always. Oftentimes his lines aren't even laugh out loud funny, but the way he delivers them, makes them so. In sharp contrast to his laid-back vibe, we have Avery, the new employee, played by Ronald Kevin Lewis in his Wilbury debut. Avery is a bundle of nerves, and Lewis communicated this often without words, but rather with a well-timed clenching of his hands, or shocked facial expression. Avery also serves, as the new employee, as the way for the audience to get information about how the whole theatre works, and about the third employee--Rose. The exposition gets a little bogged down at times, but most of the information becomes essential to the plot, and there are a lot of strands to tie together by the end of Act II.

Rose, the projectionist, is played with snarky "cool girl" bravado by Anna Basile. Sam is in love with her, but she has eyes for Avery, and Sam is still smarting from the fact that she was promoted to projectionist over him because the owner "thinks she's hot". Basile injects a fresh breath of life into each scene she runs into, and her character clearly loves the male attention, but she shows some vulnerability in Act II that stops her from being just one note.

Despite the simple premise, playwright Annie Baker has managed to create three very well-rounded, complicated characters who are also fun to spend an evening with. Wilbury's choice to stage this in an actual movie theatre is genius, and Wendy Overly's steady directorial hand has clearly helped each of the actors find their character's unique voice in a way that serves the story perfectly. There's an odd nostalgia with watching this play, even though it was written in 2013. It's more of a nostalgia for an age than an era, and that's a wistful but comforting feeling.

The Flick is presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group March 8-25, 2018 at The Cable Car Cinema, 204 South Main Street, Providence RI. Tickets are $15-$35. Call 401.400.7100 or

Photo: Anna Basile and Ronald Lewis in THE FLICK; photo by Erin X. Smithers.

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