|photo: Joan Marcus|
The Flick is not as grand and philosophically concerned as John; nor is it as precise as Baker's 2009 breakthrough play, Circle Mirror Transformation. It does, however, feature her most astute characterizations of human life. The trio of movie theater works -- a fourth actor, Brian Miskell -- plays two small parts -- regularly find profundity in minutiae, whether or not they realize it. The acting is unbelievably good, especially considering that Beltran, Rodenburg, and Miskell are only in their first week of performances. (The peerless Maher has been involved since the Playwrights Horizons run). Beltran especially puts a quivering voice and tender, expressive face to good use in projecting both Avery's savant-like cinema knowledge and deep-seeded self-doubt.
The Flick won't be for everyone. Large swaths of the audience at the performance I attended fled at intermission; many of the audience members who stayed allowed their boredom to give way to boorish behavior. (I also witnessed this behavior at John, which is similarly lengthy). I question whether these attitudes towards Baker's plays have less to do with her content -- even though the plays are long, and slow, they are fairly conventional -- and more to do with her style. My suggestion is that if you go to see an Annie Baker play, give yourself over to the experience. You might end up beguiled.