The Flick

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The Flick
Written by Annie Baker
Date premiered March 12, 2013
Place premiered Playwrights Horizons
Original language English

The Flick is a play by Annie Baker that received the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the 2013 Obie Award for Playwriting.[1][2] The Flick premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2013.

Production[edit]

The Flick debuted at Playwrights Horizons for its Off-Broadway opening on March 12, 2013. Previews were held from February 15, 2013. Sam Gold directed a cast featuring Alex Hanna, Louisa Krause, Matthew Maher and Aaron Clifton Moten. Scenery and costume were designed by David Zinn. Lighting was fashioned by Jane Cox; sound by Bray Poor.[3] Baker received a Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust Commission, and the Steinberg Playwright Award.[4]

After it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a remounting of the play was announced for the Barrow Street Theatre, though dates had not yet been determined. The production will use the original cast, providing they are available for it.[5]

Overview[edit]

The Flick is set in a run down movie palace in Massachusetts and follows three underpaid movie ushers who do the humdrum and tedious labor necessary for keeping it running, including toiling to clean spilled soda from the floors. The show is a comedy of the mundane delivered in bits of conversation that might be considered insignificant.[2] Sam Gold said Baker's comedic writing was cleverly and surprisingly understated. Gold added that rhythm, meter and pace of the dialog were cardinal to the comedy.[6] Running three hours,[2] the show has received complaints regarding its length.[7] While recognizing the dissonance, artistic director Tim Sanford sent a letter to some subscribers, acknowledging the concern, but finding it outweighed by the praise of others. He concluded there was no need to edit the play down.[8]

Critical response[edit]

StageGrade gives a median critics' rating for The Flick of B+ based on 22 reviews. Many of these reviews gave the play an "A", but one handed out a "D-" and one an "F". Despite doubts about the play's length, the characters are said to be rich and the dialogue nuanced and entertaining. The lack of traditional theatricality is seen by some as a strength, and a weakness by others.[9]

Charles Isherwood, reviewing for The New York Times described Ms. Baker as one of the most impressive dramatists from the Off Broadway scene of her generation and noted that she "writes with tenderness and keen insight".[10]

John Del Signore, reviewing the play in Gothamist, praised Baker "for capturing the halting, self-conscious vernacular of cerebral yet underachieving twenty-something suburbanites".[11] Although Del Signore noted that the significance of some of the elements of Baker's presentation were challenging to summarize, he noted that "[T]he three misfits blunder in and out of each other's isolated bubbles, making contact in any way they can to alleviate the oppressive drudgery of their tasks."[11]

Jesse Green acknowledged the need for brevity and clarity in his review for New York, and wrote:

No one does anything generally regarded as theatrical. ... So what does happen in The Flick? A lot of sweeping and mopping of the floor of a grotty old movie house near Worcester, Massachusetts. Also 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.[12]

In a Playbill article, Robert Simonson noted that despite its irksome lengthy, static actionlessness to some viewers the show was a splendid theatrical experience for serious theatregoers that wowed them with "existential minutiae" as presented by three performers who brought the themes to life.[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Despite its mundane setting and subject, the play won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.[2] Baker was awarded the 2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2013 Obie Award for Playwriting for this play.[1][13] The play received Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Aaron Clifton Moten) and Outstanding Set Design.[14] The play received 2013 Lortel Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Director (Sam Gold), Outstanding Lighting Design (Jane Cox) and Outstanding Sound Design (Bray Poor).[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gans, Andrew (2013-05-20). "'Detroit', 'Grimly Handsome', Eisa Davis, John Rando, Shuler Hensley and More Are Obie Winners". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gans, Andrew (2014-02-14). "Annie Baker's 'The Flick' Wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  3. ^ Jones, Kenneth (February 15, 2013). "Annie Baker's 'The Flick', a Tale of Movie-House Workers, Begins World-Premiere Run in NYC". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  4. ^ Purcell, Carey (October 2, 2013). "Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph Honored With Steinberg Playwright "Mimi" Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  5. ^ Healy, Patrick (April 14, 2014). "Pulitzer-Winning Play 'The Flick' to Reopen in New York". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  6. ^ Wallenberg, Christopher (2014-02-20). "The sound of silence imbues 'The Flick'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  7. ^ a b Simonson, Robert (2013-12-21). "The Year's Best: Playbill Contributors Choose Unforgettable Theatre Experiences of 2013". Playbill. Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  8. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2013-03-26). "Power of the Pause in Annie Baker's The Flick Inspires a Letter From Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  9. ^ "The Flick". StageGrade. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  10. ^ Isherwood, Charles (2013-03-12). "Theater review. 'The Flick,' by Annie Baker, at Playwrights Horizons". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-15. (subscription required)
  11. ^ a b Del Signore, John (2013-03-31). "Theater Review: 'The Flick'". Gothamist. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  12. ^ Green, Jesse (2013-03-13). "Theater Review: 'The Flick' and 'The Lying Lesson'". Vulture. New York. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  13. ^ Gioia, Michael (2013-03-18). "Annie Baker Wins 2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew (2013-04-29). "Nominations Announced for 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards; Giant and Hands on a Hardbody Lead the Pack". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  15. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2013-04-03). "Lucille Lortel Nominees Include 'The Flick', 'Murder Ballad', Jake Gyllenhaal, Vanessa Redgrave". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 

External links[edit]