Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the tiny battles and not-so-tiny heartbreaks of three underpaid ushers in a run-down movie palace. More…
While they mop the floors and attend to the 35 millimeter film projector at a theater in central Massachusetts, the ushers' own stories play out in the empty aisles, becoming more gripping than the lackluster, second-run movies on screen. With keen insight and a finely-tuned comic eye, Pulitzer Prize-winner 'The Flick' is a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.
"The emphasis is on visual image, not dialogue; film, as Edward Albee has said, hates words, and theatre loves them. The pauses here are of astonishing length—Pinter, in his wildest dreams, never risked this...I am enchanted and mystified by this long, long, fine, fine play that refuses to pander to either our need for sentimental reassurances or our impatience. 3¼ hours seems just right." Full Review
"A work of art so strange and fresh that it definitely freaks people out...There’s nothing radical about the language or the story, nor anything visibly avant-garde to shock the sensibility...In ways subtle and smart, it glancingly addresses issues of class and race, of who gets ahead and who gets left behind, and why. And while its style might be called micro-naturalism, or naturalism on steroids, there’s much art in Ms. Baker’s construction and a large vision behind the play’s concept." Full Review
"Many (myself included) became strangely transfixed by the play's gentle texture, compassionate point of view, close-up realism and complex characters, as portrayed by an excellent four-member cast under Sam Gold's focused direction...There's no denying that 'The Flick' requires a good deal of patience from its audience. But by the end, after three hours and fifteen minutes, I was so hooked that I could have lingered even longer." Full Review
"Despite its length and aura of depressive inertia, 'The Flick' is a curiously light play about a shadowy topic: the difficulty of telling real life from projections—cinematic and the kind we put on each other...'The Flick' remains an extraordinarily engrossing, funny, weird, sweet and just plain concrete experience... Likewise, the acting has grown richer and keener, studies in longing and detachment that retain a teasing inscrutability." Full Review
"Even if you've already experienced 'The Flick,' see it again. And prepare to be even more blown away...What makes 'The Flick' so extraordinary is the confluence of Baker's writing style and Gold's direction. Just as much of the dialogue is communicated through long periods of silence as through the seemingly meaningless conversations the characters have about film, life, and romance." Full Review
"I’m strongly urging everyone I know to see it. Which will surely strike them as odd, because the first time around, I said it was about the worst play I’d ever seen, 3-plus hours of torture. Guess what? I was wrong...On second viewing, I found myself completely drawn into the private worlds and fumbled intersections of these three ordinary lives. Somewhere in the long spaces between words fitfully spoken are acutely and empathically observed people whose problems by the end I really got in to." Full Review
"It's the play's great length that allows us to sink into their work lives, to experience, in a vicarious way, the soul-deadening tedium of endlessly repeating the same simple tasks. It also enables us to appreciate the characters' resiliency, the desire to form links with one another, however shallow and brief they might be. 'The Flick' compels its audiences to experience theater — to connect to characters — in a fresh way. That can only be a good thing." Full Review
"The show remains a truly fascinating piece of hyper-real drama. Baker’s contemporary play regards the dreary days in the lives of three employees in a single-screen art movie house in Massachusetts...Sound dull? It isn’t. The playwright gradually and subtly reveals the inner lives and personal aches of these individuals who remain untouched by the magic that flickers on the screen." Full Review
"The average audience member must simply settle in for the three-plus hours and trust that he or she will be carried on an emotional journey worth the investment. Most will feel the pay-off from Sam Gold’s delicate direction and supreme performances by the cast...This is Annie Baker’s story to tell. And that she does, one deliberate word and stage direction at a time." Full Review
"Annie Baker’s moving, magnificent workplace comedy...'The Flick' is flawed, but in the way that all epic, idea-filled, great plays are. It’s overlong. So’s 'King Lear.' It’s repetitive. So is 'Long Day’s Journey Into Night.' More than anything, 'The Flick' is a masterpiece of tone. Baker knows that the greatest American dramas about how we live now rarely arrive at the party all dressed up as important works of art. We’d all be wiser for giving them a minute—or even 180 minutes—of our time." Full Review
"'The Flick' is consistently funny, the delivery of lines so delightfully playful at times in spite of the characters being a woeful bunch...Ms. Baker’s script is surprising in that as simple and as trivial as things first appear, an interesting story unravels slowly, revealing great insight into these three characters and their different worlds. Peeling like layers of an onion, its revelations sit with you long after it’s over." Full Review
"Annie Baker’s excruciatingly funny 2013 play, 'The Flick,' is back on the boards, none the worse for winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama...Helmer Sam Gold recreates his hyper-naturalistic take on the material for this 16-week limited engagement, in a brilliantly engineered production that features the original, dead-perfect cast of four." Full Review
"There are times when 'The Flick' feels undeniably and willfully self-indulgent...The play could probably have made the same points at far less length. But then we would have been deprived of the opportunity of spending so much time with these characters, who by the evening's end have thoroughly burrowed under our skin." Full Review
"The play is a slice of life — or, at 3 hours and 15 minutes long, more like the whole pie — detailing little moments that happen over the course of numerous shifts at the movie theater. Annie Baker is not afraid to let her characters (and the audience) sit in silence for long stretches while Avery and Sam sweep up popcorn between the aisles. It’s unlike any play I’ve ever seen, and I mean that to be the highest compliment." Full Review
"The tediously natural two-act drama is aimed squarely at film appreciators...I’m talking hardcore cinephiles, who can play six-degrees-of-movie-separation between Michael J. Fox and Britney Spears while tossing back stale popcorn. It also feels like a remarkably genuine depiction of what we often hear tossed around as the human condition." Full Review
"'The Flick' won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but it wasn’t a home run for Playwrights Horizons: Some subscribers were so annoyed by the actionless, leisurely pacing that artistic director Tim Sanford felt compelled to respond with a letter...Now 'The Flick' is back, and at a commercial house, too. Just make sure you get the extra-large pack of Twizzlers." Full Review
for a previous production "No one does anything generally regarded as theatrical. So what does happen in The Flick? The tenderest drama — funny, heartbreaking, sly, and unblinking — now playing at a theater near you...It’s uncanny; rarely has so much feeling been mined from so little content. Something’s lost in the process, of course: brevity. Baker’s technique requires lots of time, not much of it devoted to speech...But for me, the silence, like a halo, makes everything it surrounds more beautiful." Full Review
for a previous production "Love, friendship and the daily grind all take on a distinctly sticky quality in “The Flick,” a moving, beautifully acted and challengingly long new play...Without question 'The Flick' requires your patience, but it rewards that patience too, bountifully." Full Review
for a previous production "It is true that at times the play can feel like an experiment in theatrical duration, with more than a few false endings, one or two speeches of dubious import, and pauses that are often a touch too generous...but they are transformed into something other—something more humorous, less delicate, and therefore comprising an altogether more believable (and what’s more, watchable) catalogue of the petty but heartbreaking skirmishes that are the substance of our daily lives." Full Review
for a previous production "One thing that was apparent was the preponderance of young people, almost all of whom appeared rapt in their recognition of the precisely distilled interaction between the play's characters. What was remarkable to witness was the willingness of a generation engaged in speedy if not instant visual and communicative gratification to plunge into Baker's signature world of people who articulate in halting, half-sentences and through the subtlest indications of body language. " Full Review
for a previous production "The cast is exceptional, and the play is quietly breathtaking...They want to capture the rhythms of daily life, the real way that people speak; this takes time. At the same time, Baker is also bursting with things she wants to tell us about the three central characters – about their life stories, about their interaction, about their relationship over time – and also about the evolution of the American movie theater. The result of these two impulses is a play that takes on too much." Full Review
for a previous production "This never-dull and consistently surprising scribe observes the aimless lives of three movie theater ushers with sharp insight and grave tenderness...It’s the dramatic intention of this savvy scribe to convey, in something like real time, the stultifying, stupefying, brain-eating boredom of the no-exit lives these alienated young people are trapped in. But it doesn't take three hours to accomplish this, and after the first two hours, it feels like self-indulgence." Full Review
for a previous production "We would tire of these flawed souls—each retarded, in the strictest sense of the word—were Baker not so sympathetic or the actors so perfectly cast and a joy to watch...Best of all: This hypnotic, heartbreaking micro-epic about movies and moving on is irreducibly theatrical; it could never be adapted for the big screen." Full Review
for a previous production "Annie Baker’s up-close portraits of ordinary people have earned her the label of master miniaturist. She remains true to form when it comes to the intimacy in her acutely observed and affecting new character study. But at three hours, the play is anything but mini...The pace is deliberately slow; the tone relentlessly mellow. 'The Flick' demands patience for a payoff. And it reaps satisfying dividends thanks to fine-tuned writing, acting and direction." Full Review
for a previous production "Sometimes slow but very funny...While Gold gets engaging performances from all three actors, the action is stretched out way too long and the play sags in several silent scenes. The tedious, repetitive nature of these low-paying jobs could be conveyed onstage more concisely, with less unnecessarily prolonged silences or extended epilogue music from films." Full Review
See it if You can tolerate a script that moves at the speed of life; maybe you meditate? And you are interested in real people with current problems
Don't see it if you can't physically sustain a very long play (try the matinee)
See it if you want the best show I've seen in a long time. Gorgeous writing about everyday human beings lovingly directed and beautifully acted.
Don't see it if stillness in the theatre baffles you. If you can't identify with comic and not so comic struggles of heroic people in minimum wage jobs
See it if you love people dealing with very ordinary situations and naturalistic acting
Don't see it if you want a true plot line or the thought of sitting through a 3 hour play doesn't appeal to you
See it if You are interested in a great night of theatre that takes place in a movie theatre and you love Annie Baker.
Don't see it if You like fast-paced, dialogue driven, plot-heavy shows.
See it if you love incredibly inventive storytelling & staging & acting. The play turned me into a lifelong fan of Annie Baker.
Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with long drawn out silence.
See it if You appreciate brilliant writing and nuanced acting. Bonus points if you're a film geek but not necessary to appreciate its greatness.
Don't see it if You lack patience - it's long and at times can feel slow. Those stretches are deliberate and necessary to the overall vibe if this piece.
See it if You want a theatre experience like 1950's audiences of Waiting for Godot had, and enjoy great acting with a slow burn quality.
Don't see it if If you want to fall asleep or plan your interval trip to the bar-toilet-bar. In this play you got to be awake to experience the dream.
See it if cool-headed & warm-hearted, funny, haunting, & deft. Recalibrates your clock with long silences, spurs you to think, invites you to change
Don't see it if you don't want a play to ask more of you than 90 mins
See it if slice-of-life-talky-with-long-silences dramas where little happens is your thing. Was totally riveted the entire 3+ hours.
Don't see it if slice-of-life-talky-with-long-silences dramas where little happens is not your thing.
See it if you care about one of the best productions of the century. Consummately done, it's an epic written in the rituals of day-to-day work & life.
Don't see it if you don't want to work for your entertainment dollar. Requiring patience & attention, it can feel like a 3 hr foreign film w/o subtitles.
See it if You loved any of the other Sam Gold + Annie Baker collaborations (Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens, John, etc.)
Don't see it if You disliked any of the other Sam Gold + Annie Baker collaborations (Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens, John, etc.)
See it if You want to see a unique play with fantastic acting that will stay with you for a long time.
Don't see it if You find long plays where not much happens boring. But this play is worth it if you have the time.
See it if You like a show with good character development, something smart and engaging. Has humor, drama, asks good questions.
Don't see it if You do not enjoy dialogue based plays, do not want to be too involved with the characters.
See it if You like understanding human relationships and the younger generations thoughts. Very naturalistic.
Don't see it if Can't last through three hours and tolerate a slow paced thoughtful piece.
See it if you want to see a play with fantastic writing which is very relevant today and brings common yet dynamic characters to the stage
Don't see it if you don't like long plays or lengthy pauses between dialogue. you have no interest in cinema or movie references.
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