Teddy Ferrara at the Donmar WarehouseCultureTheatre
While the rule goes that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, it should also be noted that excellent parts – or in this case performers – can exist within a rather imperfect whole.
Teddy Ferrara is a very worthy tale, but in its ambitions to cover a multitude of causes in a two-act period it loses its way. The narrative meanders through homophobia, political correctness, identity, privacy and even the sainting of the dead – with any point, purpose or pronouncement lost in the tangle.
The narrative disappointments should not take away from the skilful performances of the cast, who portray complicated characters and intimate encounters with brave and occasionally comical intensity.
Gabe (Luke Newberry) has lofty ambitions and a desire to rub shoulders with the establishment, in spite of – or perhaps because of – his outsider status as a gay man in a world of heterosexual privilege. His desire to avoid victimhood at all costs would seem callous in the hands of a lesser performer, but Newberry’s delicate mixture of awkward-cool and eager intensity makes his opinions seem rather more sympathetic and understandable.
Gabe’s on-off boyfriend Drew (Oliver Johnstone) is an obnoxious yet needy student journalist, a prancing peacock ready to reveal his inner secrets to be noticed by the world, yet eternally disappointed and depressed with the results of his attention-seeking. A very physical performer, Johnstone’s presence is oppressive despite his diminutive stature, and he provides an excellent counterpoint for the mild-mannered Gabe.
Teddy Ferrera himself (Ryan McParland) is wonderful as the quietly creepy outsider, whom you both pity and avoid; an awkward lost soul who curls your toes and yet desperately wants to be seen in any way possible.
In the face of tragedy, talks are called with the President and the provost to decide on a course of action, where much and yet little is said.
Like these student body crisis talks, Teddy Ferrara is witty and intelligent in its wording, yet fails to actually say something about the topics at hand. Witty dialogue, breathtaking acting, but it’s a shame about the story.
Teddy Ferrara is on at the Donmar Warehouse from 2nd October until 5th December 2015, for further information visit here.