'Film Society' review: Jon Robin Baitz revival

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Euan Morton and Mandy Siegfried in a scene Euan Morton and Mandy Siegfried in a scene from Jon Robin Baitz's early play "The Film Society," being revived at the Clurman Theatre in Manhattan through Oct. 26, 2013. Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

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REVIEW

Ever since a young playwright named Jon Robin Baitz burst forth in 1988 with his debut drama, "The Film Society," admirers have been impatient for a first-rate revival. Alas, director Jonathan Silverstein's mild-mannered muddle at the Keen Company makes us want one even more.

"Film Society," which originally starred Nathan Lane as the apolitical teacher-adviser of a movie club, is set in a struggling 1970 Durban white-boys school, a place unprepared for forces outside this privileged bubble. Euan Morton, riveting in "Taboo," hardly communicates the changes that roil the teacher's world.

Baitz, who went on to write Pulitzer finalists "A Fair Country" and "Other Desert Cities," established himself early as an original master of the play of ideas. A naturalistic storyteller -- a descendant of Ibsen via Arthur Miller -- he uses everyday drama to push theater from the parlor into the political. You wouldn't know if from this production.


WHAT "The Film Society"

WHERE Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

INFO $62.50; 212-279-4200; keencompany.org

BOTTOM LINE Muddled revival of important play

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