The Flick finds drama in the repetitive existence of three cinema workers.

The Flick is Clerks. It’s a snapshot of a mundane day job told via casual but finely crafted dialogue peppered with film references. Even at its highest moments of theatrical drama, the dialogue seems so natural, and that's probably the reason why The Flick won playwright Annie Baker the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The three employees of the floundering single-screen movie house the Flick—Sam (Sam Hagen), Avery (Tyler Trerise), and Rose (Emily Chisholm)—essentially spend the whole play sweeping up popcorn, picking up trash, mopping the floor, pantomiming behind the glass of the projector room, or sitting in the empty theater seats. It's not exactly thrilling action, but their conversations never take on the tedium that defines their work. Like Clerks the characters are likeable enough (or at least engaging enough) that passing the time with them doesn't seem like a chore. Though, honestly, The Flick’s is probably a bit closer to Clerks if it had kept the original ending where Dante gets murdered. Not because anyone dies, but it just has a more somber tone.”

I mean, Clerks is the obvious one for sure, but The Flick is Adventureland. Avery is the Jesse Essenberg character. He’s the new guy working at a dead-end job and putting off really starting his life. He’s nervous and mildly neurotic, but he also thinks he’s smarter than his fellow employees and carries a level of unspoken pretension. A cinematic junkie, Avery can connect obscure actors in six degrees of separation without breaking a sweat (as Sam humorously states, “That’s, like, almost like a disability”), but he’s also the type of guy who thinks there hasn’t been a great American film since Pulp Fiction in 1994. Sure, some movies like There Will Be Blood have been very good, but none great. And don’t even get him started on CGI popcorn fare like Avatar. He’s that type of snob. The only problem is character wavers so drastically and dramatically between open enthusiasm, depression, and cold, emotional detachment. Maybe he’s supposed to be bi-polar, but it comes off as a touch uneven.”

I realize you all liked it, but The Flick is Funny People. It’s over two and a half hours long, the script probably could’ve been cut down a bit, and plays more as a drama than a comedy despite its billing. I'm just glad to be out of it. I'm hungry. Anyone want to walk over and get Dick's?”


Eh... sure.”

“I could go for a shake.”

“Well I think The Flick is Ghost World. Rose is Thora Birch’s Enid. She’s an unabashed non-conformist even when that personality works to her own determent. She wants to be a rebel without putting in the effort of actually rebelling; the type that works at a movie theater and claims, “I’m kind of over movies.” While she has potential, she can never seem to get out of the way long enough to make anything of it. Sam feels the same way about Rose as Seymour (Steve Buscemi) does about Enid, only there’s no reciprocity in Rose’s case. Heck, Rose and Enid even share the same green hair dye.”

The Flick is Jurassic Park. Just lots of dinosaurs.”

… … …

“Dammit, Bradley. No, no it isn’t. There are no dinosaurs. This is why no one wants to go to shows with you.”

“(Sigh) Well I know what your response to this is gonna be, but The Flick is any Dogme 95 film. The play champions the purity of film over the inevitable oncoming takeover of technology: digital cameras and projectors, 3D movies, etc. When rumors circulate the Flick might be sold to a buyer who’d replace the 35mm projector with a digital system, it’s a proverbial line drawn in the sand that Avery feels he must fight to stop. Plus, The Flick basically follows all 10 of the Dogme 95 rules (as long as you’re not too much of a technical stickler on the props and sets aspect).”

“Dogme 95? Really? We get it, Pete. You went to film school.”

“And there it is! Thanks for your predictable retorts, Ally.”

“So I guess I'm last up? Well, I know they're not exactly, you know, thought of as films The Flick is any Peanuts special. Because while it seems like the play focuses on Avery—since his time working at the Flick is the arc of the narrative—it’s really about Sam. And with his sad sack ways, Sam could easily be a mid-30s Charlie Brown. A hopeful loser dealing with a go-nowhere job. He’s not as sharp as Avery. He’s not as cool as Rose. But to steal Avery’s bit, while Trerise and Chisholm both deliver very good acting performances, Hagen is great. Sam knows his life kind of crap. He exudes a subtle, relentless undercurrent of soft sadness, but always tries to put on a positive face. When Avery asks Sam what he wants to be when he grows up, there’s a palpable tinge of pain, before Sam shakes it off and defuses the situation. You can see Sam’s gears slowly turning in his head when he’s forced to contemplate serious problem with his family, relationships, or jobs. Hagen’s pauses and cringed facial tweaks as he sorts things out are masterfully cutting. His interactions with Rose range from squirm-inducing awkward to utterly heartbreaking. Sam’s a loser, but he tries. Or at least he wants to try. He’s never insincere even if he can’t find the words to express his sincerity. Much like Charlie Brown in Peanuts, his sympathetic heart ultimately provides the pulse that makes The Flick human.”

The Flick is a play by New Century Theatre Company. It runs through April 4 at 12th Avenue Arts. Go see it.

The Flick
Thru Apr 4, 12th Avenue Arts, $25–$30

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