On Broadway, there are superheroes flying above an audience, a handful of actors singing while pushing around a bright red pick-up truck, and the familiar chandelier crashing onto an opera house stage (although it seems to drop a lot slower than it did when The Phantom of the Operapremiered twenty-five years ago.) Meanwhile, at a smaller theater just blocks from those large theaters, is Playwrights Horizons where Annie Baker’s play The Flick is showing to much smaller crowds who are not witnessing the distracting spectacle of a big-budget musical, but rather a small-scale examination into human behavior featuring characters resembling people who would pass by the small theater unnoticed on Forty-Second Street. And it involves a lot of cleaning.
“You sit in a movie theater for two hours and watch a past-tense, recorded version of reality on screen,” Baker says to me over coffee at Kos Kaffe in Park Slope, where she lives, a few days before The Flick’s opening night. “When the movie is over, these real people come out and start to clean up. It’s like an act of theater that takes place after a movie ends: the dance of cleaning, of going up and down the rows.”