Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Theresa Rebeck's new play on Broadway at the Golden Theatre, Seminar, is a witty, sharp, and intelligent comedy about writers - specifically 4 up-and-coming fiction writers who hire a world-renowned literary genius to tutor them privately and share his vast knowledge and experience.   What they end up with is not exactly what they bargained for.  Or is it?

Alan Rickman shines as Leonard, a (not unexpected) curmudgeonly-behaved, sexist, opinionated literary giant with a storied past, in this quick-paced, biting, and words-mean-something 100-minute, no intermission gem.  Rickman's brilliance notwithstanding - the supporting cast is a bevy of talent all on their own - including Lily Rabe as the deliciously delicate Kate; Jerry O'Connell as Douglas, the self assured smooth-operator with a family name behind him; Hamish Linklater, the brooding, shy and brilliant (not to mention incredibly sexy with his short off) young writer, Martin; and Hettienne Park, the seductive, sexy, and playful young writer who isn't afraid to play "the game".

What does this wicked brew of talent all on one stage add up to, you ask?  I'm going to estimate that 1 + 4 = a perfect 10.  The comedy is well-timed, the chemistry (sexual and otherwise) among the young fiction writers is clearly present - and Mr. Rickman turns in a top notch performance lambasting them, the industry, and just about everything else he can get his hands on.  There's a dark secret in his past and I'll leave it up to you to see who ends up sleeping with whom.  I'm pretty sure you'll be surprised.

Scene changes are crisp, the set design is quintessential New York (David Zinn), and impecably lit (Ben Standon).  You'll even get a bonus in the last scene that I'm sure you were not expecting.

Don't let Seminar pass you by this fall.  Tickets for the privilege of seeing Mr. Rickman and his students are far less than the $5,000 each of the characters paid for their seminar.  And I'm pretty sure you'll want to get past the first 5 words - even if Mr. Rickman doesn't give a shit.