“The Flick” Looks for Authenticity in a Changing World
COHOES – Perhaps in part because I spent the first 21 years of my life in Massachusetts, I could sense my anticipation on entering Cohoes Music Hall for Creative License’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Flick, by Annie Baker. The play is set in 2012 in a run-down movie theater near Worcester, MA, perhaps like the type of place found in or near my hometown; though this one has one of the last 35mm film projectors in the state, as the switch to digital was nearly complete. Baker uses this backdrop to present a search for authenticity in a fast-changing world.
As Act I begins, we meet our three main cast members, portraying insecure, underpaid youngsters and coworkers at the cinema. Michael Halkitis plays 20-year-old Avery, showcasing his neuroticism and how he cares more about film than anything else in his actual life, women included. His epic movie monologue in Act II is a highlight. Cailyn Stevens is both entertaining and introspective as Rose. She brought back strong memories I had of Massachusetts girls I knew in college; an intentional stereotype (in Act I especially) by the author, adeptly brought to life by the actress. The strongest performance of the evening, however, is Bill Geltzeiler as Sam. He maintains high energy throughout the show, with his spot-on eastern Mass. accent and great comic timing combining for the most hilarious moments of the night. His dramatic moments are also exceptionally striking.
Production Stage Manager Jimmy Cupp appears on-stage in a couple of small delightful roles, but his main job was a reverse of the usual; he admirably dirties & litters the stage in between scenes instead of cleaning up. Most of the scenes start with the actors cleaning the theater. The functional set design consists of four rows of cinema seats and the projection booth in behind. Mike Hanrahan’s lighting on the booth in particular worked well; though the strobe effect shining on the seats when a movie was supposedly playing was much too rapid & regular to have come from a modern film. The sound design included an entertaining & varied selection of movie clips played in between scenes, albeit with a redundant projector noise at the end of each one. Director Aaron Hobritter has created a vivid picture of the dichotomy of workplace relationships. He ably guided his cast to show the awkward yet close relationship, those with times of both aggravation and humor. You will relate back to coworkers you thought you’d always be close to, yet find you have drifted apart.
Along the night’s journey for authenticity you will find insight in a highly illuminating yet amusing astrological scene, as well as an Act II scene of high intensity that has everything from deep emotions to low-brow comedy. Perhaps you won’t feel the same nostalgia I did for the play’s setting, but it will likely remind you of a time in your life when you had an underpaid job and formed a necessary bond with coworkers to get you through the mundane tasks, perhaps only to jump to another job where the process started over. Regardless, you will be entertained by this incredibly well-written play, and may find yourself wondering how this coud possibly be the first time The Flick has been produced in the Capital Region. Kudos to Creative License for bringing it here in this superb production.
The Flick continues at Cohoes Music Hall through Nov. 27, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.thecohoesmusichall.org.