Matthew Maher and Jaygann Ayeh in ‘The Flick’. Photo by Mark Douet
‘The Flick’ was a sell-out and my expectations were high. I did a bit of research and was excited for humour, heartbreak and a few home truths explored through the lives of three underpaid employees at a run-down cinema screen in Massachusetts.
It was a slow starter with Sam (Matthew Maher) showing Avery (Jaygann Ayeh) the ropes on clearing the cinema of popcorn and fizzy drinks after the showing. Exciting stuff. I love feeling as if am ‘in’ the play and the director, Sam Gold, did an excellent job of breaking down the fourth wall. So the slow start was a good start and I was ready for more. Life isn’t always fun and Gold wanted his audience to appreciate this.
We did get to know the characters as the play developed, however this wasn’t until the end of the first half and by this point I was hoping for a bit of speed. I felt empathetic towards Sam and Rose (Louise Krause), who both felt a bit out of place in the world. The elongated and awkward silences made sense as their personalities were revealed, and I was feeling positive about the second half, because there’s no point in being pessimistic, right?
The second half continued with random sparks of comedy resulting in outbursts of laughter, but the lack of pace prevented it from being a comedy. We saw the relationship between Rose and Avery develop but still I found it hard to connect with the characters, Gold simply didn’t allow it. I was giving up on optimism and had begun to accept that I wasn’t going to get much more from this play.
The motives of ‘The Flick’ became clear when I took a moment to read the programme; a desire to inform the audience of the importance of film, and the strong influence that ‘Avatar’ had on digital cinema after being released in 2009. It’s only a shame that this aspect was shown through Avery as an obsession, rather than being an issue in society.
So, to conclude, was it funny? Yes. Was it entertaining? Not so much. ‘The Flick’ had so much scope for exploration of the characters and themes such as depression, relationships and aspirations. Unfortunately, it was almost painful to see that Gold touched the surface but refused to dive in. The National still remains my favourite theatre though, and I will be heading back in a few weeks to see the renowned ‘Les Blancs’.
Until 15 June