by Christopher Shinn.
Donmar Warehouse 41 Earlham Street WC2H 9LX To 5 December 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30 Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 7 Nov 2.30pm.
Captioned 16 Nov.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7624 (£2.50 transaction fee).
Review: Carole Woddis 9 October.
Provocative, on many levels.
Christopher Shinn always makes one think. The obvious is never quite it with the American playwright who has had five plays premiered in London, at the Royal Court including Now or Later (2008) directed by this production’s director, Dominic Cooke.
Shinn has a track record of looking at major issues from highly personal, emotional standpoints. Now or Later looks at Presidential ambition in the context of family ties; Dying City, the US invasion of Iraq in terms of domestic psychological invasion.
So it is with Teddy Ferrara, his incursion into LGBT issues – an area you’d think well covered by now. But Shinn finds fresh and disturbing angles that encompass suicide, closeted gays amongst `straights’, and most discomforting of all, attitudes towards disability and transgender in the gay community.
Shinn’s central figure is the appealingly sensible Gabe, a potential student President who to all intents and purposes appears thoroughly at home with his sexuality. Over the next two hours, we follow Gabe’s love life with fellow student Drew, a budding journalist and his encounters with Nicky and the socially awkward freshman, Teddy Ferrara, a young man desperate for love and a boy-friend.
It’s graphic stuff as Shinn charts the sexual obsessions and casual cruising inherent in the young gay life-style and the emotional trauma that goes with it. We’re witness to some gruesomely humiliating online `sexting’ by Teddy in his attempt to `hook’ up with a partner and make friends.
The outcome, not to say the general structure, are predictable enough if beautifully played by Cooke’s young cast, especially Luke Newberry’s Gabe, Oliver Johnstone’s Drew and Chrisotpher Imbrosciano’s wheel-chair bound Jay. Shinn punctuates Gabe’s journey with some amusing swipes at college politics in the shape of Matthew Marsh’s patronising College President and Nancy Crane’s emollient Provost.
But the kick in the play lies not only in Shinn’s subtle exploration of depression and suicide in the gay community, but like society at large, its intolerance when it comes to disability (the way Jay and Teddy are treated) and the hypocritical light in which his death is bathed at the end.
Drew: Oliver Johnstone.
Gabe: Luke Newberry.
Teddy: Ryan McParland.
President: Matthew Marsh.
Provost: Nancy Crane.
Tim: Nathan Wiley.
Jenny: Anjli Mohindra.
Nicky: Kadiff Kirwan.
Ellen: Pamela Nomvete.
Jaq: Griffyn Gilligan.*
Jay: Christopher Imbrosciano.*
Campus Policemen: Nick Harris, Abubakar Salim.
Director: Dominic Cooke.
Designer: Hildegard Bechtler.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound: Carolyn Downing.
Voice/Dialect: Penny Dyer.
Movement: Liz Ranken.
Assistant director: Zoé Ford.
First performance of this production of Teddy Ferrara at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre London on 2 October 2015.
World premiere of Teddy Ferrara Goodman Theatre Chicago USA, 11 February 2013.
*Griffyn Gilligan and Christopher Imbrosciano are appearing with the permission of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange programme between American Equity and UK Equity.