"A FLICKERING," Utah Valley University, through April 19, Provo Theater, 105 E. 100 North (www.provostage.org); running time: one hour, 30 minutes (no intermission)
PROVO — "A Flickering," a new play by local award-winning playwright Melissa Leilani Larson, takes you back to the days of silent films and the early days of filmmaking.
The play, which is making its Utah premiere, is set in New York City during the early 1900s and follows two friends who couldn't be more different.
Max is an ambitious young filmmaker who hopes to break into the budding industry and share her art on a larger scale. Samantha is an aspiring actress on the stage, content to live and die in her hometown of Manhattan.
The two work together on a flicker (short film), which Max changes to give it a more artistic flair. Things go terribly wrong when the cameraman goes behind their backs and sells out.
The film makes it big — jeopardizing much more than their friendship.
From the very beginning, the charismatic cast draws you in and invites you to take a walk down memory lane. The quaint Provo Theater makes a perfect backdrop for the play. A live pianist and title cards transform the theater into an old-fashioned movie house.
The cast has a unique chemistry, giving a realistic feel to the relationships. Dan Anderson portrays the uptight and overworked Baron. His irritable, no-nonsense manner makes him a believable high-end movie producer.
Carrie Joslin gives a convincing performance as the naive and sheltered Samantha. Her rosy cheeks and youthful glow give her the look of a hometown actress.
With a brisk manner and cynical remarks, Emily Bell plays the ever-ambitious Max, who will stop at nothing for the sake of art.
Although complete opposites, Samantha and Max banter with one another in a relationship that reminds us what friendship is all about.
The show depicts the painful journey of the innocent corrupted by false accusations, as well as the long and bumpy road to redemption.
No detail is too small for director Heidi Hathaway. In most plays, the actors pantomime while eating, but Hathaway chose to stick with real food, adding to the realism.
Almost a flicker itself, a substory goes on between set changes as the play delivers a secret romance on the side.
One small problem is the live piano playing, which at times makes it difficult to hear the actors, as they have no microphones. The title cards are a nice touch, but it is hard to focus on the action and read everything on the cards.
True to its name, "A Flickering" gives just a taste of the story, leaving you wanting more. Deceit, betrayal and false accusations prove that "nothing sells better than controversy" and that this play is "meant for bigger things."