Lawrence Toppman

Three Bone’s ‘Seminar’ sears the ears

The owner of a New York apartment (Becca Worthington, right) can’t believe what two members of her writing class (Karina Caporino and Scott A. Miller) are doing in “Seminar.”
The owner of a New York apartment (Becca Worthington, right) can’t believe what two members of her writing class (Karina Caporino and Scott A. Miller) are doing in “Seminar.” Courtesy of Three Bone Theatre

Sometimes a small venue can be a big step up for a company most playgoers don’t know. By moving into Duke Energy Theater, one of Blumenthal Performing Arts’ spaces, Three Bone Theatre establishes itself on the same footing as the longer-running Queen City Theatre Company and On Q.

Three Bone will do all of its fifth season at the new location. (Look below for details). To see the quality level that convinced Blumenthal president Tom Gabbard to take them in, watch Theresa Rebeck’s “Seminar,” which runs there through August 20.

Set designer Ryan Maloney, liberated from the more cramped spaces where Three Bone has worked, uses all the room he has, saving a surprise for the last scene. Director Steven Levine lets his actors cover lots of ground; they respond, perhaps, with freer performances. Yet when Michael Harris delivers a self-pitying and self-lacerating monologue in pin-drop silence, the lights and the focus suddenly come down to a tiny space indeed.

Harris plays Leonard, a veteran writer-editor who gets $20,000 to teach 10 sessions to four New Yorkers.

Kate (powerful Becca Worthington), whose Upper West Side apartment is the classroom, initially wants to write sophisticated riffs on Jane Austen. Douglas (Paul Gibson) plans to polish well-crafted if superficial fiction for easy sales. Izzy (Karina Caporino) uses sex as a literary theme, a come-on and a weapon. And Martin (Scott A. Miller in fine neurotic mode) – well, we don’t know what he wants, because he won’t show anyone his work.

As Leonard dispenses bon mots and bile, they wince. But he may be making points they need to hear about career paths. Rebeck gets us chuckling but then suddenly asks for the pathos she has earned. The ending promises both hope and discomfort.

You can expect this kind of show from Three Bone on a regular basis. The troupe frequently presents multi-layered Charlotte premieres, and all shows in the 2016-17 season are local debuts. The company will offer Flex 4 and Flex 8 options through its website to save 20 percent off ticket prices. Here’s the lineup:

“Grand Concourse,” Nov. 10-19: An unsentimental nun who runs a soup kitchen has her faith and detachment shaken by a generous volunteer in Heidi Schreck’s comedy.

“Love/Sick,” Feb. 16-25: John Cariani’s anthology combines nine short comic plays that take place in an alternate reality on the same Friday night.

“The Actress,” May 18-27: A complicated star making her stage farewell (Paula Baldwin) deals with the unexpected arrival of her infuriating ex-husband in Peter Quilter’s drama.

“The Submission,” Aug. 17-26. Jeff Talbott’s drama shows what happens when a white playwright passes as black to get a play about the projects into a black theater festival.

Toppman: 704-358-5232


When: Through Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

Where: Duke Energy Theater, Spirit Square, 345 N. College St.

Tickets: $22 in advance, $28 at door.

Running time: 100 minutes with no intermission.

Details: 704-372-1000 or