1/27/2015 6:13 AM
I expect this show lives or dies on the performance of the actor in the role of Leonard. He has to be annoying, likeable, sexy, sharp, world weary. It's a star vehicle. The students fit the profile of an over privileged, not necessarily, but possibly talented group (they hand over a large sum to indulge in a private writing seminar!) but Rebeck has made them just interesting enough beyond their stereotypes.
When I was prompted to write this review, I was all set to give it 4 stars, but in the writing realised that although it's very entertaining, after setting up a great premise and come strong comedy, it seemed to dribbled to a close in a somewhat disconnected final scene trying to put a bow on it. And I haven't really thought about it since I put it down.
4/29/2013 12:53 PM
What is greatness, how do we achieve it, and what is expected from ‘great’ people? Four young novelists hire a top writer, Leonard, to tutor them privately. While a brilliant author, Leonard makes for a shoddy teacher, at least at the surface. His lessons seem weightless, and cynical. Discovering Leonard’s flaws and learning that his teaching is fruitless, each student find their own way to manipulate the man into giving them what they want.
We have great expectations from our teachers. We want them to move us, to challenge us, and ultimately to make us successful. This gives them a ton power over our lives. Rebeck explores how that power is used and how these five people fight for it, through sex, through brownnosing, through talent.
The play moves wonderfully fast and offers incredible wit. Rebeck is at her strongest here. While the characters are strong, there is room for a bit more development of the relationship between the two young leads. Our expectations for them could be a bit higher, but that could possibly be done on the stage. This play can be a great vehicle for an older leading man, and will offer a good night at the theater for the audience.
4/24/2013 3:34 PM
Seminar is a play about the creative writing business of the late-20th / early-21st century. Two male leads and two female leads come together to hire a lauded editor as their private writing tutor, and through these 5 characters' interactions the audience is privy to debates on the essence and ethics of writing in the modern western world. Some of the characters are willing to sleep their way to the top of the writing world, some value truth and expression more than anything in the world, and some just want to have their names in the press.
Seminar has many strong points. It has moments of comedy, of drama, of romance. It has five generally equal roles, which make it a good piece for a college or community theater, or any place in which ensemble work thrives. It has much room for interpretation– settings such as 'Upper West Side loft' give enough information to inspire a sophisticated set without demanded a particular staging.
Setting these positive aspects aside, the play does have it's faults. There are some major bumps in character development, and as a company putting this on you may find that the text requires smoothing out. At times, Seminar asks the audience to make jumps that are just a little too big, accepting dissonant character decisions– such as the manipulative seductress character also being the ditzy and talentless member of the writing group.
Overall, this is a strong piece to produce; it has something to say, and it doesn't fail to entertain.