Monday, 26 October 2015

Teddy's Boys

So then to the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden and the Christopher Shinn play, Teddy Ferrara. As is the case with Donmar productions, less is more. No real set other than some doors, a few chairs and the odd pizza.

I knew the bare bones of this play - political activism amongst various gay students at an American college. There was the earnest one (Drew), the slightly shallow one (Gabe), the misfit one (Teddy), the unlucky-in-love wheelchair user (Jay) and the closet (Tim). In amongst these was the college's President with an eye on a senate seat, the angry salad-munching lecturer Ellen and the slightly dull Provost.

Unrequited love played its part and the underlying fickleness of all the main protagonists is what really let this play down. The entire production had the downbeat feel of one of those interminable 1990s films where the 'gay one' always dies, whether by suicide or AIDS. See Ordinary People or Longtime Companion for such misery. That's not to take away from the performances of those involved. Oliver Johnstone as Drew excelled as the serious young man maintaining his 'non-scene' stance. Ryan McParland's canker-laden Teddy made for painful viewing at times. Also a great turn from former Coronation Street actor Pamela Novete as the bitter Ellen.

The play ended with an odd scene which felt as though it had been grafted on at the last minute. It bore little relation to the rest of the story and provided no reason as to why one particular character acted the way he did. Rousing applause for the cast though, even if the audience seemed a little perplexed as it exited stage left into the wet London night.