Thursday, 5 May 2016

FIVE STAR REVIEW for The Flick at the National Theatre

Matthew Maher as Sam

Jaygann Ayeh as Avery and Louisa Krause as Rose
picture credit Mark Douet

THREE people and a cinema in a small town in Massachusetts. Not perhaps at first glance the most inspiring of settings but The Flick, now on at the National's Dorfman stage is a real gem.
Written by American playwright Annie Baker, the cinema in question is the only one for miles around that still plays films on 35mm rather than digital.
It is this that has attracted 20-year-old African American Avery, on a break from his studies and who has an OCD-like obsession with "proper" film.
He joins Sam as a cleaner, sweeping up the rubbish and other unmentionables after the audiences have left the auditorium.
The other in the triumvirate is Rose the projectionist. They are three lost souls who are drawn together because of their love of the silver screen.
Over three hours, we hear about their dreams, find out what makes them tick and see their foibles - including Avery's fear of - and how Sam and Rose are running a small scale scam into which Avery gets drawn into with the inevitable consequences.
We also see them struggle to keep the cinema going, even though it is failing and about to be taken over, much to their concern who worry about their jobs and the future of traditional film.
It is a fascinating study of human relationships - and into the mix it becomes painfully obvious that Sam fancies Rose who in turn fancies Avery.
Admittedly this is not a show for those hoping to be out quickly. There are some long pauses. Indeed no one speaks for the first five or 10 minutes, instead they sweep, clean or simply stare at each other. Sometimes the pauses err on the side of being a few seconds too long, but nevertheless this is a great show.
Avery (Jaygann Ayeh), Rose (Louisa Krause) and Sam (Matthew Maher) are terrific and the set is brilliant.
It may be a slow burner but it is a beautiful and astonishing play that unfolds and one I would quite happily sit through again.

The Flick is on at the National Theatre until June 15. Tickets from £15. Visit for full listings.

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