My husband and I saw “Seminar” at the John Golden theatre in NYC this past week. I would say that he indulged me, knowing how I feel about its star, Alan Rickman (but he loved the play, so we’re good).
Since I didn’t watch the Die Hard movies, and I missed his 1987 Broadway performance as the Vicomte de Valmont in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” I first saw Alan Rickman around 1990 in the film “Truly, Madly, Deeply.” Over the years I’ve realized that I’m one of many women who find him extremely attractive. But I’m not talking about his face, as nicely angular and English as it is. It’s Alan Rickman’s voice.
When Alan Rickman speaks, everything else stops. The magnificent diction! The eloquent elocution! And so in this 100-minute play, all centered around Rickman’s character of Leonard, an acerbic but brilliant teacher of a writing seminar. In attendance at these weekly seminars are four young, aspiring authors: the feminist Kate, the well-connected Douglas, the savvy Izzy, and the gawky but talented Martin. Were I expected to show Leonard any of my writings, I’d be popping Xanax like candy. He was brutal in his appraisals, and the audience loved it, hanging on every enunciated word and groaning in delight at his verbal castrations.
The play itself seemed lacking, however. Reviews I’ve read call it “thin,” and that seems appropriate. With such a fast-moving piece (no intermission), there is no time for digging deeper. The message must be delivered with each line. And I wanted more. Indeed, with perhaps fifteen minutes remaining, Leonard’s character finally shows another side, and thanks to his stellar abilities, we see something beneath the acerbic surface.
For a (much older) aspiring writer, “Seminar” was a joy, especially from the safety of Row J.