What's this? Seems like I haven't done a theatre post in absolute yonks though in truth I have watched a fair few plays since the last one I wrote about because frankly I can't seem to stay away from the theatre for any extended length of time. I thought the perfect one to start off again with would be a play at the Donmar Warehouse, possibly my favourite theatre venue in London because it was the first one I ever had the pleasure of sitting in (saw Eddie Redmayne in Red back in 2009). Being rather out of the loop with it's current productions, I hadn't heard of Teddy Ferrara before my friend mentioned that she was interested in seeing it. Naturally the first thing I asked her was what the play was about. She'd read that it's about a young gay student in his senior year, who's the chairman of the LGBTQ students group at his university. Ok, student life, been there, sounds interesting and I could always benefit from more insight into the LGBTQ community so sign me right up.
Aside from my long standing infatuation with the Donmar, one of the biggest drawcards for me was the familiar doe-eyed face of Luke Newberry (whom you might recognise from TV series like In The Flesh and From Darkness) who would be taking on the lead role of Gabe. The play is essentially seen from Gabe's perspective as we follow him around the campus. Immediately (though perhaps only initially) a likeable character, he struggles to balance his ambitions of a future in politics with his social life, foremost his new boyfriend Drew (the editor of the university newspaper) whose demanding yet promiscuous personality keeps clashing with Gabe's fear of commitment combined with his need to please everyone. There's an interesting array of supporting characters that fill the campus including a transgender boy who's intent on raising LGBTQ awareness in the university, a wheelchair bound boy whose happy go lucky personality masks his loneliness, the college president who can't seem to shake off his narrow mindedness and old fashioned way of thinking, and Gabe's heterosexual best guy friend who excessively asserts his masculinity. The relationship between all these characters make for an intriguing watch but at the centre of everything is the titular character, a freshman named Teddy Ferrara, who passes through the university vastly unnoticed due to everyone else's own selfish concerns yet leads a double life online. Apparently this play was inspired by the case of Tyler Clementi, an American student who threw himself off the George Washington Bridge in 2010 when he found out that his roommate had been using his computer webcam to spy on him whilst he was kissing another man. When Teddy ends his life halfway through the play, it throws quite the spanner in all the other relationships as the characters question what could possibly be the motivation behind his suicide.
A series of unexpected events unravel and things take a turn for the worst for Gabe who finds himself guilt-ridden by the death of the one guy he previously nonchalantly shunned and essentially knew nothing about. We start to witness some off-putting traits in Gabe's downward, tragic spiral out of control and we are left quite uncertain of who is to blame in all of this. Perhaps that is the real question and we are all still looking for an answer. Luke Newberry drives the play terrifically with his lead role but perhaps the most outstanding performance comes from Ryan McParland who portrays Teddy. His twitchy mannerisms and constant whine was extremely fixating and he so very effectively depicts the outsider we've all been in our own lives. The play is extremely confronting to say the least and tackles many issues of homophobia, bringing to light how cruel even LGBTQ kids can be to one another. However, despite the fantastic characters, I couldn't help but find the plot somewhat lacking. The second act quickly went downhill after what seemed like a promising start, with many loose ends not given any form of conclusion. All in all the play is probably more a study of psychology than it is a riveting story but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a fascinating albeit rather uncomfortable watch, though I'd still recommend everyone to go and check it out if you have the time. Unfortunately this week is the play's last as I saw it quite late but there are still tickets available here.
Teddy Ferrara is at the Donmar Warehouse until the 5th of December 2015.