Saturday, November 26, 2011

Class Is In Session

An acting class is currently being given at the Golden Theatre, but it's in the guise of a play about writing and writers. That play is Theresa Rebeck's Seminar.

In the funny but slight play, Alan Rickman--best known for playing another professor--stars as Leonard, an author who has chosen four students to be a part of his writing seminar. Rickman should teach a master class in pausing--every pause has so much weight. Though Rickman is the main draw, this is very much an ensemble piece. It's hard to believe that Hamish Linklater is making his Broadway debut as the awkward Martin, but even without the floppy hair he sported in his recent off-Broadway roles, he still proves to be one of the finest actors of his generation. Jerry O'Connell as the privileged but well-meaning Douglas and Hettiene Park as the sexy Izzy also make assured Broadway debuts. I was one of the few not enraptured by Lily Rabe's Portia, but she won me over as Kate, somehow taking a self-pitying character and making her (at least somewhat) likable.

Anybody who has spent time with writers will recognize some of the pretentious conversations in the play, and Rebeck's dialogue is consistently amusing. However, the actions of the characters don't always feel earned. Fortunately for Rebeck, she has director Sam Gold, making his Broadway debut, at the helm. Gold's production is so smooth and the acting is so strong that it's easy to overlook some of the inconsistencies.

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