Richard and I saw this play at the Barrow Street Theater on 6/14.  It won the playwright Annie Baker the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for drama, which is a pretty strong reason to see a show, no?  It takes place in a rundown movie theater in suburban Massachusetts.  It has three characters: the two guys who clean up after the movie and the woman who works as the projectionist.  There’s a fourth character, but he has less than ten minutes onstage, so I’ll ignore him.

 

I was a little squeamish about the running time: three hours, five minutes.  That’s standard for an opera, but for a play, it’s on the long side.  And a play for three characters?  Could it really be good enough to go on for three hours?  I’m here to tell ya: IT IS!  It was so sweet, an engrossing, thought-provoking, singular work of theatre.

 

A lot of the credit should go to the director, Sam Gold (who just won the Tony for directing *Fun Home*).  A great deal of the charm of the show is because of the way the play is directed.  The actors have a resolutely low affect presentation, with many long pauses between lines.  This sounds boring, but it had a charming, slice-of-life quality about it.

 

The biggest thrill of the play: the two guys played what I call The Movie Game.  This is a game I invented just over twenty years ago, and I will insist to the death that it was before Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  The Bacon game became popular in 1994: you take any two actors and link them through six (or fewer) movies that they were in with other people, using Kevin Bacon as one of the links.  My version, The Movie Game, doesn’t necessarily involve Kevin Bacon (though he’s very useful to keep at hand).

 

My favorite example of The Movie Game - - my friend Steve Reichl thought he’d stump me with Liberace and Jerry Lewis.  I was not stumped:

 

Liberace was in *Good Night and Good Luck* with Jeff Daniels

Who was in *The Hours* with Meryl Streep
Who was in *Manhattan* with Diane Keaton
Who was in *Annie Hall* with Shelly Hack
Who was in *King of Comedy* with Jerry Lewis

 

I could eliminate a link by doing:

 

Liberace was in *Good Night and Good Luck* with Jeff Daniels

Who was in *The Purple Rose of Cairo* with Danny Aiello
Who was in *Hudson Hawk* with Sandra Bernhard
Who was in *King of Comedy* with Jerry Lewis

 

- - but then I'd miss out on the glory of Shelly Hack!

 

My finest hour with The Movie Game was at a recital by Julie Harr, not long after I invented the game.  She was doing a flute recital and playing the Dutilleux Sonatine.  She told me she needed ten minutes to rest backstage before playing it, and told me I could do whatever I want, as long as it didn’t involve her.  I decided to play The Movie Game with the audience.  I explained it to them, we played a few rounds, everyone found it amusing.  The final round appeared to be a real stumper: Mel Gibson and Benji.  I thought about it for a moment, and said, “I can do it in two links!”  A gasp from the audience.

 

Mel Gibson was in *The Year of Living Dangerously* with Sigourney Weaver

Who was in *Deal of the Century* with Chevy Chase

Who was in *Oh Heavenly Dog!* with Benji

 

So in *The Flick*, the older guy gives the younger guy Britney Spears and Michael J. Fox.  He links them like this:

 

Britney Spears was in *Crossroads* with Kim Catrall

Who was in *Mannequin* with Estelle Getty

Who was in *Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot* with Sylvester Stallone

Who was in *Cliffhanger* with John Litghgow

Who was in *The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension* with Christopher Lloyd

Who was in *Back To the Future* with Michael J. Fox

 

I spent the next half hour of the play thinking through Britney Spears and Michael J. Fox - - I knew there must be a shorter way to connect them.  And I did: with ONE LINK!

 

Britney Spears was in *Austin Powers in Goldmember* with Danny Devito

Who was in *Mars Attacks!* with Michael J. Fox

 

LOVE, Chris

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