Wisdom and wit as we watch the watchers
By Caitlin McGrane
It’s incredibly fitting that The Flick is playing across the road from the iconic Astor Theatre. Nestled in the shadow of the great institution, Red Stitch has truly outdone itself with this production. The show is beautifully touching in the way it employs humour and pathos to tell its story. There’s an awful lot of sweeping as Avery (Kevin Hofbauer) and Sam (Ben Prendergast) clean the cinema at the end of each screening. ‘The Flick’ itself is a small, one-cinema theatre that employs Avery, Sam and Rose (Ngaire Dawn Fair). Avery’s the new guy; he’s skittish and sweet, asking Sam, ‘What do you like wanna be when you grow up?’ Sam’s the old guy, with an unrequited crush on Rose, who’s so carefree she’s intoxicating.
The Flick sets the audience up like a fly-on-the-wall, watching the three interact with each other. As Avery slowly gets a handle on what ‘dinner money’ is and impresses Sam with his terrifying encyclopaedic film knowledge, the character is revealed as the emotional heart of this play and Hofbauer does a particularly wonderful job of keeping the audience on his side throughout. Prendergast’s Sam is wise and sensitive, played with no small amount of wit. And Fair as Rose is beautifully languid yet earnest: I wanted to go for drinks with her afterwards. What’s so charming about this play is that no one character is truly without fault, and it’s great to see how playwright Annie Baker has dealt with depression, suicide and growing up in a way that is truly sensitive and insightful.
The set, designed by Shaun Gurton is simple but extremely effective, and the cinema seats and projection booth were both very accurate. Lighting designed by David Parker was immersive as the audience played the role of the screen. Expertly directed by Nadia Tass, The Flick was a delight, and I left thinking deeply about the future of cinema and the people we interact with on a daily basis. It’s remarkable how much we get to know about the three protagonists as the play unfurls, and Baker has delivered a production that is sharp, funny and poignant.
The Flick is playing at Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel Street St Kilda East until May 23. For ticket bookings and more information, visit https://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/TheFlick2