Monday, 20 October 2014

'Seminar' Hampstead Theatre ****

One has often thought about what makes a decent and stimulating piece of writing, and the Hampstead Theatre's current production of Theresa Rebeck’s ‘Seminar’ was bursting with enormous amounts of humorous elements that encapsulate the word of creative writing. ‘Seminar’ officially opened on Broadway in 2011,and is set within the apartment of wishful writer, Kate, who along with three of her supposed friends embark on a writing course where their tutor, the creepy and precarious Leonard teaches them the virtuous and deprived aspect of their novels. However, Leonard hardly praises their work, and frequently demeans Kate’s work as uneventful. As well as, he appears to discover faults in Douglas’ work repeatedly, referring to his practitioner identity as a “whore” which visibly upset him. On the other hand, Kate's friend Martin is hesitant to present his writing to Leonard due to the endless amount of criticism that both Kate and Douglas have received week after week. Nonetheless, the other female student, the busty Izzy is singled out more positively by Leonard as it seems he desire to have sexual intercourse with her, this craving becomes fruitful after a dinner that the two of them and Douglas have after a weekly seminar. Douglas who has a profound infatuation with Izzy becomes disheartened and turns against the two of them after this action. When Leonard takes a working vacation to Somalia, Kate’s misery is enhanced, and she threatens to leave the weekly seminars and dispense from writing altogether. Furthermore, her fixation with Martin is obliterated when she witnesses his and Izzy’s passion becomes increasingly strengthened. Once Leonard returns, he continues to be as vile, and demands to see an array of progress; especially from Martin who has never handed any work for feedback. When Martin angrily requests for his money back at Leonard’s apartment, he is stunned to grasp that Kate has been sleeping with him, and he realises that Leonard has been secretly writing a novel too. Rebeck’s narrative is enormously riveting as we comprehend the difficulties of developing the craft of writing, and the trials of being taught by a vulgar individual who cannot praise any of the students work. One thought the performances by the company of ‘Seminar’ were exceedingly well characterised. Roger Allam is ostentatious as the lecturer, Leonard; especially when we see his undying fear when Martin starts to read the novel that he's been secretly hiding. Bryan Dick is sublime as the disgruntled student, Martin. One found his moments with Izzy were quite pleasing to observe as we start to learn the he can be a contented individual that can fully enjoy life. Charity Wakefield is mesmerising as the slightly solemn Kate. I thought her comedy value was quite appealing when we see the character drowning her sorrows with Ben & Jerry's ice cream and red wine. Terry Johnson's direction is transcendent here as we are taken through the artistic process of creative writing, and the trials and tribulations of teaching, as well as being taught by someone who is afraid of praising people. Lez Brotherston's design is stylistically spellbinding as the attention to detail in capturing the lavishness of a high-profile apartment was of an agreeable standard that engross the atmosphere of self-importance. Overall, one found the experience of ‘Seminar’ was very enjoyable, and most definitely recommend to you all.

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