“Seminar” Profound and Comical Perspectives
Theresa Rebeck is a prestigious playwright with extensive experience in television and movies. She understands the literary process and its contributors. Although writers tend to be egocentric like many artists, they also must be empathetic in order to create the personalities readers or an audience can enjoy. Rebeck’s “Seminar” is a play about writers and she reveals the conflicts and angst among them with wit as well as admirable character creation. “Seminar” a BIGNOSE Production, presented at Shakespeare on the Paseo, also requires a director and actors who understand the writing processes and perspectives. “Seminar” contains adult language and situations, exactly what one would expect from a group of writers.
Who better to direct than Linda McDonald, accomplished not only as a director, but also as an actress and writer. Well known in Oklahoma City theatre circles, McDonald also boasts several successful novels as well as her broad theatrical background. She directs her cast with perfect understanding to reveal their characters to the audience.
Four aspiring writers are attending a seminar under the guidance and expertise of an established author and editor. They have each paid $5,000 to participate in the 10-week practicum to have their work critiqued by an expert enabling them to improve their skills and become successful as well. One of the writers graciously hosts her fellow writers and their mentor in her apartment. As a group they quickly discover that their instructor is extremely blunt and often cruel in his assessment of their pages. Egos shatter, personalities conflict and objective criticism is lost. Even unique writers confuses love and sex like everyone else, so hormones as well as disharmony rule and rue the day.
Ben Hall is, perhaps, best known for his superb sets as well as directing, takes the stage as the experienced author and instructor without a soul, Leonard. His performance is chilling but the hint of smirk or possible smile lurks about his lips giving away his humanity. Hall gives the audience a hint of that humanity in Leonard skillfully, as none of his pupils can see any redeemable qualities in him.
Emily Etherton is Kate, a young lady from the upper middle class with decidedly feminist leanings. Etherton is a strong actress and has appeared on many stages throughout Oklahoma City. She is also a pretty good writer, having written for okartsceneandhurd. Etherton brings excitement and class to the role of Kate; as always, pleasure to watch.
David Mays as Douglas creates a perfect façade–the pompous self-absorbed jerk. The façade will crack, as they always do, and Mays expertly reveals the insecurities Douglas has as a writer and a single man. He tries to impress his colleagues, especially the ladies with his verbal gymnastics and succeeds only in giving them a chuckle.
Kevin Moore is Martin, his desire to be a successful writer is in conflict with his fear of showing his work. He is equally confused about love and sex. He is a man with the talent to be successful, but success may elude him as he carefully places obstacles in his own path. Moore straddles the two sides of Martin with sensitivity and a certain dollop of charm.
Jennifer Farley is Izzy. Izzy is very attractive and Farley succeeds in showing her primary flaw and greatest barrier to success. Izzy has ‘pretty girl syndrome’ the belief that men appreciate her sexual attributes more than her intellectual attributes, and she conducts herself accordingly.
Under McDonald’s superior skill in directing these five actors create an evening no writer should miss. They give Farley’s story substance and take advantage of her wit to make “Seminar” entertaining, thought-provoking, funny and fruitful. Anyone who writes will find Leonard ripping out your heart, display the pulsing organ, then demand you say something profound before you die. Thanks to other characters, Theresa Rebeck and Linda McDonald, you will.
“Seminar” has one weekend remaining, ending the run on February 25. There is limited seating at the Paseo location so plan ahead. For information and tickets visit BIGNOSE Productions at www.bignoseproduction.org or call 405-226-9595. Curtain is 8:00 pm and Shakespeare on the Paseo is located at 2920 Paseo in the charming Paseo district.