Early in Theresa Rebeck’s comic play, “Seminar,” four aspiring writers cower in an Upper West Side New York apartment as Leonard (Jeff Goldblum), their imperious creative writing teacher, scans just one page of a short story before lambasting its author. The short story’s heroine, and by extension its author, is “an overeducated, completely inexperienced, sexually inadequate girl who has rich parents who give her everything and who has nothing to say,” he sneers. “So she sits around and thinks about Jane Austen all the time. I don’t give a s--- about that person.”
Leonard, an embittered former literary star, has equally acidic words for the rising commercial author in the class: “You’re a whore,” he snaps.
It’s not until later in the play that viewers learn Leonard has a wounded bark beneath his bite; layers emerge to reveal his painful history, resulting in a transformation that may ultimately redeem him as well as his students.
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