Not your average flick

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March 25, 2014

The Flick, by Annie Baker

Produced by ITSAZOO Productions

Presented by Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre

Directed by Phoenix alum Chelsea Haberlin

Reviewed by Chris Ho

It seems appropriate that The Flick, which takes place at “a falling apart movie theatre” in Worcester Country, MA, is being performed at the once run-down but beloved Roxy Theatre on Quadra. And even though the amusing bit of irony, combined with the fresh smell of popcorn may have already put me in a good mood as I entered the theatre, I can objectively say that this contemporary play by Annie Baker is a must-see.

As one can imagine, it isn’t easy to create a consistently engaging play that explores the subtle gems of self-discovery and change that sometimes emerge during the mundane moments of everyday life. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the play might be summed up as two employees bantering as they sweep popcorn off the floor. And yet when I took a glance at the audience, it seemed like they were at the edge of their seat like I was. Annie Baker touches on a very universal theme about the moments in life where we stand at a crossroad that then gives us insight into who we were, and who we might become. Yet she manages to do it in a way where it doesn’t feel overly cliché, or overdone.

This is something that ITSAZOO Productions clearly understands, and captures very beautifully in its rendition of The Flick. Kyle Sutherland (Set Design) and Simon Farrow (Lighting Design) seamlessly transform the Roxy from a movie house to a live performance space, — and stay true to the simplistic design that the playwright likely intended. Bits of popcorn are strewn about, surrounding the authentically creaky movie seats – and directly above, a small pane of glass looks into the projector room, as the projector looks out on us. To visually portray the idea that people’s lives can seem like a performance at times, the movie projector transitions the scenes by intermittently projecting clips of Hollywood movies toward the audience as the lights are dimmed.

For me, the appeal of this production lies in the fact that there aren’t really any missing components or weak links in its overall composition. The three characters in the play, Sam (Chris Cochrane), Avery (Jesse Reid) and Rose (Kate Dion Richard), were perfectly cast. Each and every one of them was consistently in tune with their roles, as well as with the nuances in their characters’ development throughout the entire play. Everything from the sound, lighting and set design were complementary and did a great deal to enhance the overall vibe of the play. Under the direction of Brian Richmond, these actors were able to bring out the thematic subtleties in Annie Baker’s writing.  I’d give it four out of five stars.

Chris Ho is a Victoria-based singer songwriter.

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