My opinion on Teddy Ferrara


Finally I take some time to write it.

Teddy Ferrara is a play where the title’s character is not really the protagonist, but everything happens around him and, later, because of him. Is about how people behave in front a guy they consider weird and unappealing and about their reaction after his death. It’s also an interesting analysis on gay students in university and what they think about themselves, homophobia and politics. You’re surprised on how things are not that simple.

I agree with most of the opinions and reviews: this is a very important, touching, bold play, that balances the tragic matter with humour. I disagree with the bad ones, but I think it’s good when a play is at the centre of a debate, rather than go unnoticed, it hits the mark. It’s satisfying reading that almost everybody appreciated the wonderful performances by the cast, even if they didn’t like the story or the characters.

Most of the praises are, of course, for the incredible portrait Ryan McParland makes as Teddy Ferrara, he walks on the stage in a bizzarre way and speaks funny, too, but he’s different when he’s chats on the Web and pretends to be attractive in the eyes of other men, then he’s over the balcony crying alone and “jumps” and your heart strings! It’s a very good performance that makes you uncomfortable!

Luke Newberry, definitely the real protagonist of the play, is very lovely and nice as Gabe! He doesn’t fear to play some intimate scenes with his co-protagonist Johnstone, they go very well together! Luke is the right choice for the casting, he’s able to portray in a realistic way a young senior student who looks like the good lad full of good intentions, but got prejudices on some type of men and is a more complex character than he seems.

His boyfriend Drew is played by Oliver Johnstone: like Newberry, he’s perfect for the role, makes a sensitive, cheeky, bold performance! It’s amazing to see him being one moment caustic and full of confidence in his own aspect, the other moment insecure and in need of tenderness. He also tells some lines that would make you blush speaking them and yet he seems so natural in saying them, making the audience laughing. And he cries reading the article about Teddy and dries his tears during the applauses at the end! Fantastic!

Matthew Marsh, the President, is certainly the member of the cast with more experience, but has a good interaction with the younger actors. He’s full of energy making his speeches and moves in a funny way, standing still at the centre of assembly.

Nancy Crane is a good support for him as Provost, she’s a smart and nice actress and I liked the way she was looking at the President, hearing him making some bloopers in front of the students

Christopher Imbrosciano is the only element of the cast who was in the original U.S. production, I’m glad he was chosen to play Jay again at the Donmar, he makes a sweet clever performance and when I saw the play I ideally wanted to hug him in my mind.

Pamela Nomvete plays Ellen, as soon as she comes to the assembly, you see she’s not easy to impress, she looks at the President as if he’s totally mad while he’s talking. Her character is so very funny, she’s the one who pronounces the “fatal” word “micro-aggressions” and got to eat a…sad healthy salad while the other guys are eating pizza!

Kadiff Kirwan plays Nicky, the journalist who writes the tribute articles for the university newspaper edited by Drew. He’s another character who seems to keep inside unexpressed feelings, a good performance by the young actor.

Nathan Wiley plays Tim, Gabe’s best friend, who’s straight and loves to cheat on his girlfriend, he’s convincing pretending to be very masculine, but he’s also funny when he tries to understand if Drew is flirting with him or not. And, then, appreciates!

Anjli Mohindra is lovely and shines as Jenny, the only character who seems open and sincere, I like when she copes with Tim, but also shows her vulnerability.

Griffyn Gilligan plays Jaq, the transgender man who joins the assembly with the President, it’s a nice performance, even if short. He was also able to make me “angry” when he interrupts Gabe’s speech with the megaphone, in the name of a boy he didn’t care about when he was alive.

It’s a pity that Abubakar Salim and Nick Harris, the two policemen, got just one scene at the end of the play. Looked like another scene with them was cut from the original script. But they’re very smart in uniform.

The set design at the Donmar is simple, with some furniture that are moved by the cast from one scene to another, but that makes you paying more attention to the action. Some places were represented just by lights and sounds. The actors eat real cupcakes and pizza and that makes the audience a bit green with envy.

Teddy Ferrara is still on at the Donmar Warehouse until the 5th of December, it’s a pity nothing more was announced so far, like a longer running or a recording for archives or live screening. This is a play they should screen in high schools, homophobia is still so present in everyday life!

I was lucky to meet Luke and Oliver at the stage door after the show, I said them “Congratulations for the play” and they smiled and thanked me, they seem two lovely guys in real life and were so kind in signing my programme.

The other members of the cast were too fast for me, what a pity, maybe next time!

I really enjoyed the play and being inside the Donmar Warehouse!

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[Update: nice to be mentioned in this blog on Cupcakes!]

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