November 20, 2011

Seminar with Alan Rickman

Seminar stars Alan Rickman as Leonard, a (once)famous novelist who now holds private classes for aspiring authors. He is also a freelance editor and writer, and one of my favorite moments from the play is when he gives a bitter and impassioned monologue about a writer's career trajectory.
Theresa Rebeck's acerbic comedy is like Tyne Daly's Master Class combined with God of Carnage. Leonard is obviously brilliant but his teaching methods are unconventional; his criticism brutal. When he's not chewing out his students, he goes off on tangents, telling anecdotes about his world travels. He is unflinching, even malicious. But he is correct in saying that for budding writers---or any artists for that matter---one must be prepared to hear the truth.
Hettienne Park as sexual dynamo Izzy. Was she actually any good as a writer? We will never know.
Hamish Linklater as Martin, the insecure yet talented writer. The perfect target for Leonard's vitriol.
Sting and wife Trudie Styler were fellow audience members at the preview performance that I saw.
Mr. Rickman's performance is---shall we say? Magically delicious? (Sorry, I couldn't resist. I did see flashes of Professor Snape when he castigated one of his students.) His comedic timing is impeccable. And yet when we learn more about his character's history, his arrogant countenance adeptly switches to surprise, pain, anger. All in nanoseconds.
My sisters and I were supposed to see this show on 29 October, but the snowstorm prevented us from doing so. Thankfully, Telecharge allows you to call at 11 AM every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to see if shows are past-seating (or past-dating) for that evening's performance. All you need is time and patience, and a little bit of luck. I actually got an orchestra seat instead of the mezzanine seats that I bought. (Unfortunately, my sisters were unable to join me.)
Although I had qualms about 2 main characters' story arcs, AND accurately predicted how the play was going to end, it was still an enjoyable journey. As a fan of good writing (being obviously a frustrated writer myself), the show provides candid insight about this beautiful art and craft. Words strung together, done right, have the power to entertain, provoke, and inspire.
Lily Rabe as Kate, who lives in the Upper West Side apartment where the seminars are held. She has been working on her novel for years, and Leonard's disdain for her skills are matched by her contempt for him.
Jerry O'Connell as Douglas: privileged, affected, well-connected, priggish. He is not spared from Leonard's vicious critique.
Class is in session, starting today, the 20th of November.

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