Recommended **** In a lot of ways, Steppenwolf’s production of “The Flick” reminded me of vacation trips when my children would ask “Are we there yet?” every five minutes. My “C” crew – Cindy, Colleen and Crista – were all in agreement, “The Flick” could use some judicious pruning. On the other hand, it is perfectly cast and superbly acted, and it has an interesting story to tell. I give it 4 Spotlights.
The evocative set is strangely disorienting as the audience faces the rear of a shabby movie theater. Those seats looked a lot more comfortable than the torn seats in my neighborhood theater, though. As music played and a 35mm projector flickered overhead, I found myself thinking I should turn around and watch the movie!
After the above mentioned non-movie ended and the house lights came on, two employees enter the empty theater and start sweeping up popcorn, soda cups and other debris. As Sam (Danny McCarthy) demonstrates his sweeping technique to newbie, Avery (Travis Turner), they get acquainted.
After a brief blackout, the lights come up and the floor’s a mess again. While they’re sweeping, Sam amuses himself trying to stump Avery who’s an expert at finding 6 degrees of separation between movie stars. Rose (Caroline Neff), the projectionist is in the booth.
I tried to figure out how they managed to strew more popcorn and soda cups and other debris during the very brief blackouts. There wasn’t enough time for a stagehand to do the job. I think some of the seats were rigged to drop debris on the floor.
Another blackout, the guys are sweeping and Rose comes downstairs. She and Sam explain the concept of “dinner money” to Avery, who refuses to participate because if the boss finds out, he’ll fire the black kid first. Sam and Rose think the boss is a moron, so they insist that Avery participate.
Another blackout, there’s a guy (Will Allan) sleeping in the last row. Sam says he’s taking the weekend off to go to his brother’s wedding, so Avery will have to do the cleanup alone. Avery has been snooping in the booth and discovered reels of film the boss never returned. He suggests a movie night for the three of them.
While Sam is gone to the wedding, Rose and Avery get together. Because he’s so curious, she shows him how to run the projector, then while they watch the movie, she makes a move on him.
A few days later, she asks Avery to cover for her, which enrages Sam, who’s watched other newer workers be promoted while he stays in the same job. Avery runs to hide in the bathroom when Sam confronts Rose with his love for her.
“The Flick” runs through May 8th in Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago. Running time is 3 hours, 10 minutes with an intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00; and Wednesday matinees at 2:00 on April 20th, 27th and May 4th. Tickets range from $20-$89. Paid parking is available in the Steppenwolf garage next door; valet parking in front of the main entrance. FYI (312) 335-1650 or www.steppenwolf.org.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Flick”.