I’ve been back from my trip to New York to see Seminar for a while now and wanted to post this review but life has been getting in the way. On top of work at the day job and trying to finish the first draft of my latest novel, I’ve been sick off and on, but here we go with the long-awaited review.
First and foremost, Alan Rickman was spectacular. I have long admired his work and was a bit fearful that seeing him at long last in person would be a disappointment. I’m happy to say he is all I imagined and more in the flesh. He’s so relaxed and confident on stage. He doesn’t seem to be acting; rather, he seems to be having a real conversation with the other characters. So natural and unaffected. I’ve been to many plays over the years and believe me, I’ve seen some actors who are not as at ease on stage as Mr. Rickman was in this role. The only other actor I’ve seen that has this same quality to the same extent onstage is Richard Griffiths.
The rest of the members of the ensemble cast were well-chosen by the casting director. Jerry O’Connell seemed a little rushed in his first lines, but he soon settled in and did a wonderful job. Hamish Linklater was spot on in his role – he was one of my favorite people in the play with his understated angst. In fact, no one in the play over-emoted which can sometimes be a distraction.
As to the women in the cast, Lily Rabe was wonderful as the hostess of the writing class. When she grabbed all the snacks after the first session, that hit home. As a writer myself, I’ve indulged in those binges of rejection-eating. Ms. Rabe carried herself well.
Hettienne Parker was very natural in her role. There were several times she interjected comments into the group that seemed like they were off the cuff and real. Knowing they were lines she’d spoken many times, I was impressed at how fresh and new they sounded. Bravo for her.
Theresa Rebeck has razor-sharp wit and I enjoyed her writing very much. My seventeen year old son also thought the play was wonderful and he enjoyed the wit as much as I did. The references to Tin House and The New Yorker were appreciated by this writer.
I love the tag line on the sign outside the theatre: Young writers are like good books, you can’t enjoy them until you’ve broken their spines. I believe there are a lot of agents and editors who believe that and there may even be some truth to it!
In short. if you can get to New York while this play is showing, do it. It’s worth the trip. If you’re an Alan Rickman fan, this is a must see.