Previews for the Undermain’s latest, Annie Baker’s The Flick, started this week. It’s a time capsule of a play about three semi-adult movie theater employees, and it takes place in the movie theater in which they work. I think it’s only fair to tell you it’s three hours long. And when it premiered Off-Broadway, some people did not care for all the seeming inaction. But I also think I should tell you that it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, and when I read it (okay, when I made my entire book club read it) I found it touching and funny. But don’t just take my word for it! The New York critic called it “the best argument anyone has yet made for the continued necessity, and profound uniqueness, of theater.” Here are five other reasons to go see it in your friendly local fallout shelter:
1. Annie Baker, the play’s author, is an interesting, young, talented playwright who has quite a bit to say about the way we think and communicate and live now. Dallas audiences were introduced to her work last year when two different theater companies produced her play The Aliens, a lovely, lonely meditation that springs up in the space between musical notes and disaffected diatribes.
2. Two of the characters play an awesome degree-of-separation game that involves some fairly obscure movie references that should give a thrill to anyone who loves being right all the time. This show offers the singular joy of a memory snap, when the answer falls out of your tangled brain and into your mouth. Film nerds, for reasons that may be clear from the play’s title, will love this game. And if you’re equipped with encyclopedic knowledge of both blockbusters and the Criterion Collection, you can steal it for your next film nerd house party.
3. Mikaela Krantz. I last saw the actress in Booth, at Second Thought Theatre, where her conflicted, forward-thinking Lucy Hale rose to the forefront of a play about Lincoln’s infamously charismatic assassin. I liked her in Jailbait a couple years ago, with Dallas Actor’s Lab, as well.
4. It’s directed by Blake Hackler, an assistant professor at SMU, and whose résumé includes time with both the Roundabout and the York Theatre in New York.
5. Seeing The Flick will prime you for another must-see show next month. In February, Dallas Actor’s Lab, which hasn’t produced a show since 2013, will put on Baker’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya as part of the Elevator Project series. (I wrote more on all of that for the February issue of D.) A few weeks ago, I spoke with Kyle Lemieux, DAL’s artistic director, about the affinity between Baker and Chekhov, and the fact that the two works are debuting in Dallas quite close together. “I think it’ll be a really exciting opportunity for Dallas audiences to really see her work in real tight proximity to each other,” Lemieux said. “And I think what audiences with discover is that Chekhov is also very interested in those kind of loose ends of conversation and human communication and yearnings that Annie is interested in.”[box_dark]
3200 Main St. Dallas, TX 75226
January 8, 2015 7:30 pm
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When it premiered Off-Broadway last spring, Annie Baker’s new play about three semi-adult movie theater employees collected jeers (audience members balked at the seemingly mundane plot and three-hour run time) and praise (the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and critical raves from major publications). It sounds thought-provoking, weird, and just a tad irritating—exactly what we want from the Undermain.
(Courtesy of Liv Johnstone at DMagazine.com)