Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Characters at This Theater Are as Good as the Ones Onscreen

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Characters at This Theater Are as Good as the Ones Onscreen

Article excerpt

The black box theater in the Kranzberg Arts Center is set up tennis court-style for "The Flick," the new production by R-S Theatrics. As you enter, you might assume that the actors will perform in the center of the room, while the audience looks on from tiers of seats on either side.

But then you notice that all the people are seated on the same side. And that the other side is filthy.

Popcorn and empty cups are tossed about on the floor and the seats, which are unoccupied except for a man who seems to be fast asleep.

Scenic designer Keller Ryan has captured the worn-out look of an after-hours theater, down to the last kernel. But it's not a place for live theater, like the one we are in. This is plainly a movie theater, and just as plainly one that's past its prime.

Playwright Annie Baker won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in drama for "The Flick," a quiet look at three people who work at the old-fashioned movie house.

Coming into their own after the crowds are gone, Sam, Rose and Avery chat, complain and try to keep one another amused as they clean up after inconsiderate moviegoers. Earlier in the evening, they may have sold them candy or restocked restrooms for their convenience. But by and large, they're invisible.

The strength of this play is that it lets us see and hear them even care about them. We get to know them pretty well, too, because "The Flick" runs about three hours.

But under Joe Hanrahan's direction, it never drags. He involves us not through action of which there is very little, other than sweeping the floor but through character.

Each one is well-played. As Sam, a grown man with a dead-end job and life to match, Chuck Winning is almost painfully touching. His wounded blue eyes tell us plenty about his hopeless love for Rose, and his take-charge attitude toward a new usher reminds us that any job is worth doing well.

Jennelle Gilreath plays the object of his doomed affection, a wild child who needs a bigger stage for her personality than a run-down theater in Worcester County, Mass. …

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