With fitting irony, Teddy Ferrara is a peripheral figure in the play that bears his name. He is an outsider whose private suffering has a ripple effect across the whole campus.
The fictional character is based upon 18-year-old American student Tyler Clementi, whose college roomate used a webcam to spy on Clementi's relationship with another man and attempted to broadcast the footage on. When Clementi committed suicide, the story was global news, triggering debate on the subject of LGBT students' welfare and the noxious growth of cyberbullying.
Inspired by this true story, award-winning playwright Christopher Shinn's nuanced new drama uses the suicides of two very different students as a starting point for a deft, intricate exploration of the realities of homophobia, on a social and institutional level. All the consolation of gay marriage legalisation and social media emblazoned with rainbow profile pictures to support Gay Pride is stripped away and the audience is forced to confront the layers and toxic permutations of prejudice.
Teddy (Ryan McParland) is socially awkward. As head of the LGBT society, Gabe (Luke Newberry) means to make time for him, but a burgeoning relationship with student newspaper editor Drew (Oliver Johnstone) and political ambitions keep distracting him. Dominic Cooke's direction keeps it slick, with an almost filmic tension.
But, despite topnotch performances all round, there remains something a little hollow about the characters themselves. As the relationships and motivations grow increasingly knotty, all the drama revolves around issues rather than humanity. While the politics and morals are illuminating, we were a little unsatisfied by the shallow characterisation.
|What||Teddy Ferrara, Donmar Warehouse: review|
41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
01 Oct 15 – 05 Dec 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£7.50 - £37.50|
|Website||Click here to book via the Donmar Warehouse|