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  Seminar at Theater Wit


Theater Wit
1229 W Belmont Ave Chicago

In Seminar, four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes with Leonard (Tom Hickey), an international literary figure. Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon, and hearts are unmoored. The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious as innocence collides with experience in this biting comedy.

Presented by Haven Theatre Company

Thru - Apr 13, 2014

Price: $32

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 773-975-8150

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins

  Seminar Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"..."Seminar" was on Broadway in 2012. This Chicago premiere is the work of the nascent but impressive Haven Theatre Company, which has been around for less than a season. That would suggest the big Equity theaters passed on the title, which is surprising, actually, given the juiciness of the cultural dish on offer. In previous eras, "Seminar" may well have ended up in a commercial run here — it's certainly as enjoyable and substantial a play as "God of Carnage." Rebeck gets off some great gags at the arty urban life in a rent-controlled world ("$800 a month? That's like having a grant without having to apply for one"). But things worked out at Haven. "Seminar" was generally and quite reasonably regarded as a tad slight for Broadway, but when you're talking a $32 ticket on Belmont Avenue, it's a lower-risk endeavor and director Marti Lyons' production is deliciously small-bore, which is exactly the kind of production that enhances this particular script, which is about small-bore characters, past promise and Ivy League degrees notwithstanding."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Rebeck's wry critique of sex, ego, ethics, and politics in the Manhattan literary world offers juicy roles, and director Marti Lyons's ensemble—Mary Williamson, Keith Neagle, Atra Asdou, and Carl Lindberg as the students, and Tom Hickey as their teacher—play off each other superbly, though the play comes up short in its implausible denouement. The Haven Theatre's staging also benefits from high-quality production values, including an excellent set by Joanne Iwanicka."
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Albert Williams

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Playwright Theresa Rebeck has forged her career upon the lifestyles of Manhattan's Upper West Side, where Izzy still lives with her parents and Martin occupies one of the five empty bedrooms in the apartment furnished Kate by her largely absent family. Privilege doesn't prevent fledgling artists behaving any differently from their counterparts in other regions and eras: they squabble, they conspire, they gossip, they whine. They couple, and uncouple. They eat cheap junk food and drink expensive beer. After exhausting these activities, they come to realize—almost by accident—where their talents lie and finish by contentedly embarking on their respective roads to success."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Chicagoist - Recommended

"...Director Marti Lyons keeps the show running quickly, thanks in part to the dynamic casting. Williamson is especially powerful as Kate, who shrugs off her initial vulnerability and adopts a believably shrewd, anything-to-win mindset. Neagle (who was a highlight in The Pavement Group’s otherwise misguided production of Harry and the Thief last fall), is winning as the brilliant yet insecure Martin, who lacks the class status or social know-how to climb the ladder of the literary elite."
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Melody Udell

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Yet Hickey's gruff, rumpled Leonard, who's become a globe-trotting magazine correspondent, is just as self-inflating in his descriptions of trips to Rwanda and Somalia, which he uses as currency in much the same way Douglas does his Yaddo attendance. And Lyons's production is adroit in its quick shifts of our allegiance-at first it seems Williamson's delightfully acerbic Kate and her self-consciousness of privilege will be our main focus, but then maybe it's Neagle's nervous, unconnected Martin and his pining for Asdou's Izzy. It's actually all that and more, as these five scribes keep going through rewrites."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Director Marti Lyons imbues Rebeck’s play with an infectious spontaneity. We are very much in the room – designer Joanna Iwanicka’s tastefully appointed apartment — with these clever, ambitious young people. We sense the withering heat from Leonard’s tough love and the electricity in Rebeck’s taut dialogue. It is the crisp, charged, nuanced language of a master. A veritable seminar."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Apart from the razor-sharp, keenly-felt writing, Haven's triumph is a supple showcase of the driven acting that honors complicated characters. It's a rich brew: Asdou's opportunistic flirting as available Izzy; Lindberg's smiling plasticity as entitled Douglas; Williamson's ever-boiling resentments as the disrespected Kate; and Neagle's wary defensiveness as elusive Martin. Then there's the ostensible bully boy Leonard: Hickey plays this damaged dreamer with contagious aplomb, his almost criminal timing barely conceals the kind of massive vulnerability that every good writer hides at the peril of losing it altogether."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Seminar is funny, stinging, smart, as it stirs us with biting comments on the world of both fiction writing and our quest to achieve fame and fortune in the creative arts. Anyone who has ever penned a story will relate to this show. Haven Theatre has mounted a gem of a show. A strong script presented by a terrific ensemble are ingredients for a wonderful trip to the theatre. This show is worth seeing."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Lately, Chicago is playing host to many new productions in our smaller  theaters. Some of them have been a little less than expected from the troupes that are presenting them and some are very sit-com styled, so one thinks they are watching an extension of one of the TV shows they watch on a regular basis. I am happy to say that Haven Theatre Company has a Chicago premiere that is funny and thought provoking. Theresa Rebeck’s  comical “Seminar” is now on the stage at Theater Wit in Theater number three."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...A play of biting wit and searing intelligence, Theresa Rebeck’s “Seminar” is a tightly packed coil of literary intellect, and it’s received a remarkably focused production by Haven Theatre at Theater Wit."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

The Fourth Walsh - Recommended

"...Despite the gender speed bump, the ensemble is terrific. The males hold their own. The anti-charismatic Hickey utters his disdain with unapologetic cruelty. The raging Keith Neagle (Martin) and smug Carl Lindberg (Douglas) push their own alpha-dog agenda. The cast delivers casual banter dripping with ambition. The clever dialogue reinforces the idea 'behind every joke, there is a grain of truth.' The writers do what writers do best use their words as tools and weapons. Under the direction of Marti Lyons, the stories unfold as neatly as Scenic Designer Joanne Iwanicka's impressive set. Iwanicka's posh New York condo transforms brilliantly into a writer's hovel. This set transition is pretty cool."

Katy Walsh

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