American writer Theresa Rebeck’s 2011 play SEMINAR, the new production at the Ensemble Theatre, is well worth catching.
The play features a very lively clash,- Rebeck pits four very keen, ambitious young writers in waiting against a brilliant but monster of a a writing coach. The writers,-Kate, Douglas, Izzy and Martin, each put down 5 thousand to take a 10 week writing course with the acerbic Leonard. Kate is so keen that she offers up the living room of her stylish New York as the venue for these seminars.
SEMINAR starts with our young writers starry eyed and full of enthusiasm, chatting away in Kate’s apartment as they wait for Leonard to arrive to deliver his first class.
Their enthusiasm soon takes a bit of a fall. Leonard’s first Seminar is a nightmare for young Kate. She shows her new work to Leonard and he tears it to shreds. Rebeck has set up her play deftly. We, the audience, are thinking. How is this going to work out? Are we going to see blood on the floor, stemming from one of these writers?!
A highlight of SEMINAR is the way that it constantly changes direction….We are never quite sure how the play will ‘land’,- in a dark place or a place of light?!
Anna Crawford’s Australian premiere production serves Rebeck’s play well. Crawford’s strong creative team is headed by designer Alisa Paterson who has come up with a memorable, finely detailed set, inspired by the show’s original design.
A good cast bring Rebeck’s vibrant characters to life.
William Zappa delivers a master class in acting, as well as in writing, in his portrayal of Leonard.
Matilda Ridgway shines in the pick of the other roles. Her character, at first, comes across as a delicate, fawn like woman however as the play moves on, we see a much stronger person emerge.
Michelle Lim Davidson, who some will know as a regular presenter of Playschool, revels in playing the role of the racy, manipulative Izzy, Felix Gentle plays the priggish, highbrow Douglas, and Matthew Zeremes plays the introverted, tentative Martin.
Recommended, Anna Crawford’s production of Theresa Rebeck’s SEMINAR opened at the Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli, on Wednesday August 21 and plays until Saturday September 14, 2013.