Not only are messy customers a challenge for three movie theater employees in the latest production from the Dramatic Repertory Company. The underpaid workers also find that their personal lives need some tidying up.

The Maine premiere of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flick” ends the intrepid company’s season impressively. It’s a potent mix of comedy and drama that introduces us to recognizable characters who are dealing with varying degrees of uneasiness about their current situation. “Maybe it’s never gonna get better,” one of them laments.

From left, Corey M. Gagne, Tsiambwom M. Akuchu and Casey Turner in a scene from “The Flick.” Photo by Katie Day

We gradually get to know Sam (Corey M. Gagne), a thirty-something usher/custodian who likes a good laugh but also longs for a better future. Specifically, he pines for projectionist Rose (Casey Turner), a seemingly free spirit who has trouble maintaining relationships. New employee Avery (Tsiambwom M. Akuchu) is a college dropout and movie buff who questions whether he and the others are just faking it through their lives.

Avery’s concern for authenticity extends to his advocacy for the theater remaining analog, when the industry trend is to go to digital projection. Johnny Speckman has a brief role as a new usher who wants to touch the movie screen (hello, digital world). Film trivia games and bits from movie soundtracks fill-out the cinematic backdrop for this play set in a rundown theater (believably rendered by scenic designer Dustin Tucker).

Issues of race and class are also raised as Avery, an African-American and son of a college professor, engages with co-workers from different backgrounds. But what sets the play apart is the way the author suggests that, though all the world’s a stage, there are real people left waiting after the show for something fulfilling to happen to them.

Gagne gives his Sam the likable air of the guy who knows he’s way too old to be comfortable with Avery’s asking him what he plans to do when he grows up. There’s an underlying resignation in him that will eventually lead to some insight. In the meantime, instructing newbies in the routines of a low-level job gives him a limited sense of purpose.


Turner plays Rose cute and full of movement and pose. Her expressive face emotes all over and around her lines as her Rose attempts to stay on top of things. Fleeting glimpses of a childlike sadness anchor a vivid performance.

Akuchu gives Avery a nerdy insecurity that makes him both vulnerable and slightly removed from the world of his co-workers. Their sometimes-awkward attempts to connect with him leave him confused and a little suspicious. When he edgily recites lines from a movie near the end of the play, his supposed friends’ reactions show how far they’ve come.

Director Keith Powell Beyland obviously knows how to bring out the best in actors and, with the exceptional writing within this play at his disposal, he has put together a production that affectionately captures everyday people trying to figure out how to be themselves.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.