BWW Review: SEMINAR Proves BigNose Productions is an Exciting New Voice in OKC Theatre
BigNose Productions presents their first work, Theresa Rebeck's biting comedy SEMINAR. Filled with scathing one-liners and backstabbing twists, SEMINAR examines gender politics, artistic merit, and modern urban sociology through a self-aware, comic lens.
The story centers around a group of up-and-coming post-collegiate writers who meet every week with a famous editor and literary sage to "learn" from him-if you call "learning" having your work and personal life ripped to shreds on a regular basis. The cast of young(ish) writers - Emily Etherton, Jennifer Farley, David Mays, and Kevin Moore - bandy about insults like flies at a picnic. Though I often wished for a quicker pace - Rebeck has written a group of individuals who would tend to think on their feet rather than pause for reflection - this ensemble ultimately proves themselves. Etherton especially creates a more layered Kate, mining her character's idiosyncrasies to give reasoning behind Kate's abrupt shifts.
The rapacious advisor these students are paying more than $5,000 a piece to be ridiculed by is portrayed by Ben Hall, also the founder of BigNose Productions. I can definitely see why Hall wanted to tackle the part of Leonard: originated on Broadway by the late, great Alan Rickman, this role provides more than a few opportunities for an actor to chew up a host of delicious speeches. Hall delivers many of the shows most memorable moments.
Director Linda McDonald gives her actors free rein to inhabit their characters and their world. Her use of space in the Shakespeare in the Paseo theatre was unique and resourceful, with sets placed on both sides of the audience...though I did wish for a more consistent use of the concept; it was an exceptional opportunity not quite fully realized.
Ultimately, I am quite excited to see a New Theatre Company emerge with such a striking first impression. Many fledgling theaters might tend to play it safe, choosing a more marketable play that would appeal to the conservative base of Oklahoma audiences. Hall has lead BigNose to share a stimulating narrative from a bold, contemporary playwright, and doesn't shy away from the language and themes presented. It's refreshing to see a play in Oklahoma that deals with the saltier side of humanity, and exhibits characters who may not be role models, but cautionary tales. I look forward to seeing how the company grows, as I hope it develops into a troupe that continues to take brave risks
SEMINAR runs February 10th-25th, 2017 at Shakespeare in the Paseo. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets online.
By Theresa Rebeck; presented by BigNose Productions; directed by Linda McDonald; production stage manager, Alexandra Shadid. With: Emily Etherton (Kate), Jennifer Farley (Izzy), David Mays (Douglas), Kevin Moore (Martin), and Ben Hall (Leonard).