The Film Society: in brief
Keen Company's Jonathan Silverstein directs the first NYC revival of this 1987 play by Jon Robin Baitz (Other Desert Cities), in which a South African schoolteacher in the 1970s gets tangled in the politics of apartheid.
The Film Society: theater review by Adam Feldman
What is the value of hewing to the past? This is one of the questions posed in Jon Robin Baitz’s first full-length play, 1987’s The Film Society; it is also an issue raised, but not answered, by Keen Company’s decision to revive it. Euan Morton stars as a cryptogay teacher in 1970 South Africa, torn between conservative forces at his decaying all-boys academy and progressive factions represented by his two best friends (the excellent David Barlow and a miscast Mandy Siegfried); Roberta Maxwell plays his monstrous mom. Though overwritten in places, especially toward the end, the piece has touching moments that prefigure some of the high points in Baitz’s subsequent career. But it also feels like a last gasp of a certain kind of dated pathetic-gay play, and Jonathan Silverman’s direction—in which an overall sense of dramatic drift is interrupted by minor spikes of indication—makes no compelling argument as to why this fledgling work deserves our renewed attention.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE Keen Company continues its recent line of satisfactory but faintly dull efforts.
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