STONEHAM — Theresa Rebeck returns to her favorite theme — betrayal — in the witty dark comedy “Seminar.” But in this Stoneham Theatre production, Rebeck’s plot machinations feel labored, and the five-member cast struggles to find a pace that doesn’t leave them spinning.
The premise of “Seminar” involves a quartet of aspiring writers who pay a famous journalist/editor/novelist to lead a private writing workshop in one writer’s spacious Manhattan apartment. Within the first 10 minutes of the play, Rebeck defines her writers/students as teetering between self-importance and self-loathing. They insist that writers are the “soul of the culture,” but they are always desperate for the slightest bit of encouragement. The students include Douglas (Jesse Hinson), a well-connected pompous ass and veteran of several writers’ colonies; Bennington grad Kate (Liz Hayes), whose family owns the apartment; the opportunistic Izzy (Sophorl Ngin), who won’t hesitate to use sex to get ahead; and the hapless Martin (Jordan Ahnquist), whose need for sex and money nearly overwhelms his talent for fiction.