Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Revisiting a Playwright's Early Work

Keen Company's revival of Jon Robin Baitz's The Film Society is the first time the playwright's work has been revived in New York, but one has to wonder why. When a playwright has success, as Baitz had with Pulitzer-finalist Other Desert Cities, it can be appealing to go back and revisit his early writing, but maybe this creaky 1988 play didn't need a second look.

The Film Society of the title is one run by young teacher Jonathon Balton (Euan Morton) at a boarding school in South Africa in the 1970s. His colleague Terry Sinclair (David Barlow) is an activist whose politics shake things up at the school while Jonathon tries to stay out of the politics as best he can.

A play about a boarding school with no students is already lacking something and the production is low on energy. Director Jonathan Silverstein stages each scene similarly with the actors standing around rather stiffly conversing with one another. It becomes tedious. I'm generally a fan of Keen Company, but I guess every company is bound to have the occasional miss.

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