Seminar: Theresa Rebeck
London NW3 3EU
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
Monday – Saturday 10am – 7pm
7:30pm; Wed mat 2.30pm, Sat mats 3pm
Runs: 2hrs incl interval: to 18 10 14
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen Oct 1, 2014:
Complications at full throttle.
Writing and the business of writing. Can it be comic? Award-winning American writer, Theresa Rebeck, seems to think so, in a sardonic, bruising kind of way.
Seminar, first seen on Broadway in 2011, is a writer’s guide in how not to do it. Sitting at the feet of a known author, hoping to feed off his – or her – wise words, a great writer it may not make. On the other hand, that writing guru might actually just know a thing or two about the `business’ of writing. And Seminar is very much about what it takes to make a career as a writer.
Are writers born? Or are they `made’? Is it how you write or is it who you know?
Like the UK, the USA has its fair share of `creative environments’, ready to assist those willing to pay large sums in the hope of making them better writers and therefore more lucrative earners.
But as one character, the acerbic Kate (a stand-in for Rebeck herself one wonders) says, ‘Life is complicated. People are complicated. If you can’t figure that out, you’ll never be
much of a writer.’ And goes on to prove it.
Played at deliciously full throttle by Charity Wakefield, Kate is a feisty number, in whose plush West Side apartment three other hopefuls are gathering for a private, expensive seminar with Leonard, onetime lauded writer, now jaundiced editor, reluctant teacher and world-weary Third World visitor in search of `stories’.
Bryan Dick’s Martin – dishevelled, principled and tentative – Rebecca Grant’s stunningly sexy chancer, Izzy and Oliver Hembrough’s sadly pretentious, well connected Douglas all make convincing acolytes at the feet of Roger Allam’s combustible, brutal Leonard.
Rebeck has a deft, not to say scalpel-sharp line in dialogue (especially from Kate). But Allam’s Leonard though obnoxious seems less a real character than a mouth-piece for unpalatable home truths about writing and its disillusions.
In a last minute implausible if interesting twist, Leonard’s vulnerability is revealed every bit as much as Martin’s talent and Kate’s last minute acquiescence to pragmatic realities.
Rebeck’s talented if bitter dissection of the process of exposing your soul entertains but doesn’t quite convince.
By Theresa Rebeck
Leonard: Roger Allam
Martin: Bryan Dick
Izzy: Rebecca Grant
Douglas: Oliver Hembrough
Kate: Charity Wakefield
Director: Terry Johnson
Designer: Lez Brotherston
Lighting Designer: Howard Harrison
Sound Designer: John Leonard
Composer: Colin Towns
Assistant Director: Hannah Field
Dialect Coach: Alison McKinnon
Seminar opened on Broadway Nov 20, 2011
First performance of this production at Hampstead Theatre, London, Sept 25, 2014