Theresa Rebeck’s hilarious take on the inner workings of a writing ‘Seminar,” hits a bit too close to home, but it does defend the notion of writing as a serious and arduous art form.
Don’t try this at home, people – we writers are professionals.
Rebeck’s Broadway comedy, now playing at the Ahmanson Theatre, tracks the rivalries and ensuing psychological war games of four would-be serious writers who are under the tutelage of Leonard (Jeff Goldblum), a highly-respected and renowned author who for $5000 a whop, will conduct semi-private writing seminars.
Leonard is a no-holds-barred, in-your-face, honest-to-a-fault, narcissist, who doesn’t hold back on his opinion of his student’s writing attempts. He mercilessly rips apart Kate (Aya Cash), who, he says, has an obsession with Jane Eyre.
He calls Martin (Greg Keller) a pussy in relation to his participation (or lack thereof) in presenting his findings, and calls Douglas (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) a whore. Sexy Izzy (Jennifer Ikeda) is at least going in the right direction, although it may because Leonard wants to bed the young exhibitionist. In fact, there is a lot of sex going on in this show – with no-one, in the long-run, fully being satisfied.
Goldblum, dressed in black, roams the stage like a panther – ruling over his somewhat competitive students while dissecting their prose.
Cash is funny and brings a freshness to the role of Kate. Keller is exceptional as Martin, who is actually a pretty good writer if he’d let someone read his material. Jennifer is just the right amount of saucy as Izzy and Near-Verbrugghe is just the right amount of pretentious.
The chemistry between the cast makes this hilarious presentation a pleasant night of theater. Lots of laughs, fun and revealing insight.
David Zinn’s scenic and costume design are extraordinary. Ben Stanton’s emotional lighting design coupled with John Gromada’s original music and sound design, lift the production.
Seminar, is written by Rebeck (“Poor Behavior” and NBC’s “Smash”), directed by Sam Gold and stars Jeff Goldblum, Aya Cash, Greg Keller, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe and Jennifer Ikeda.
On the Donloe Scale D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), Seminar gets and O (OK).
Seminar, Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles’ Tues-Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. 1 and 6:30 p.m. through Nov. 18; $20-$110; www. CenterTheatreGroup.org