Imagine the most intense teacher you’ve ever had, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Leonard (Ray Dooley), one of the main characters in Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, onstage now as part of Playmakers Repertory Company’s season, is like. Rebeck’s brief-but-dense play is quick and to the point, performed with no intermission and inviting viewers into the lives of a small, intimate group, consisting of four eager writing students and their aforementioned teacher.
The action of the play takes place in the rent-controlled apartment of Kate (Carey Cox), a dreamer who wilts when Leonard harshly criticizes her writing. She’s joined by Douglas (Schuyler Scott Mastain), a hipster/yuppie combo who is comically pretentious; talented-but shy Martin (Myles Bullock), and wild sexpot Izzy (Allison Altman).
The fast-moving play follows the group through each of its writing meetings, tension mounting each time. There are couplings and uncouplings and lots of drama as all of these big egos mingle. And, while the dialogue throughout is witty and fun, peppered with literary allusions and biting, realistic dialogue, the script never quite gets off the ground. Each of the characters is explored…but not fully enough for the audience to really care about any one of them. It’s also hard to derive a particular meaning from this character study; before the viewer has time to really think about the play and what’s unfolded…it’s over, and it’s, sadly, not really memorable enough to keep thinking about.
What does shine here, however, are the performances of the actors. Dooley is wonderfully multi-faceted as Leonard, who is by far the script’s most complex character. He moves deftly through the character’s range of emotion, switching from cynical to vulnerable easily. Altman brings a fun energy to her role as Izzy, and Cox creates a Kate who is at least somewhat likeable…which is hard to do when all the characters, Kate included, are egocentric and pretentious. The stellar performances, however, can’t quite save this bland and forgettable script.
PlayMakers Repertory Company presents SEMINAR at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 and 23, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27-30, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31, and 2 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
TICKETS: $15 and up ($10 UNC students and $12 other college students), with discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel, except $15 (general admission) Tuesday Community Night performances.
UNC NEWS SERVICES RELEASE: http://uncnews.unc.edu/2015/09/25/PlayMakers-presents-hit-broadway-comedy-seminar-starting-oct-14/.
PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.
PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.
NOTE 2: There will be a FREE post-show discussion with members of the creative team following the show’s2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25th, performance.
NOTE 3: There will be an Open Captioning Performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31st (for more information, click http://playmakersrep.org/outreach/allaccess/opencaption).
NOTE 4: The Lucy Daniels Foundation and the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society will sponsor FREE post-show “Mindplay” discussions after the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31st, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1st, performances.
Seminar (2011 Broadway dramatic comedy): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/7568/seminar (Samuel French), http://www.ibdb.com/Show/View/490650 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seminar_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Theresa Rebeck (Kenwood, OH-born playwright): http://theresarebeck.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/379131 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresa_Rebeck (Wikipedia).
Michael Dove (director and producing artistic director of Forum Theatre in Washington, DC): http://forumtheatredc.org/team/details/michael/36 (Forum Theatre bio) and http://www.playmakersrep.org/performances/embed_artist.aspx?id=194b2da8-7d70-4c99-b11d-2b9f11ba0fbb (PlayMakers Rep bio).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.