Set on a university campus, “Teddy Ferrara” is a jaw dropping, risqué production. Inspired by the 2010 suicide of Rutgers Tyler Clement after being sexually exposed online, the play consists of many hard hitting topics from the struggles of confused students to the role of deception.
The story centers on Gabe, (Liam Benzvi) who is set on smooth sailing through senior year, yet instead does the exact opposite. With issues arising from all sides Gabe is forced to deal with the arguing LGBT group, a problematic boyfriend, his confusing best friend and the suicide of a fellow queer classmate. As countless subplots piled up, the overall production lost its edge and grew lengthy. In a messy way playwright Christopher Shinn covers various troubling issues which our society faces today, yet as the story kept transitioning from one problem to the next the overall plot became overwhelming.
The social media aspect of the play was one the many themes that could have been hit upon yet was washed away due to dramatic tensions, making the play stray from worldly values, as though it was a soap opera. The main topic of the play was unclear, as all in audience were uncomfortable, yet was it meant to make us feel this way? The constant sexual actions not only brought discomfort but also an irrelevance to the production. Although some may argue that the content within the production was there to evoke a sense of connection, it instead was over the top and unnecessary.
Manipulation, another topic thrown into the play, was displayed at all angles even from the protagonists. Teddy Ferrara’s suicide was used as a symbol to the LGBT community, yet before no one cared about him until his death. This brings controversy as the LGBT community uses Teddy’s suicide to their own advantage. The entire play leaves many unanswered questions. The ending left the audience wondering what was next, and did not answer many of the questions audience members still had.
Each part was truly original and captured perfectly. From the serious disturbed Drew (Adam Poss) and Teddy (Ryan Heindl), to the comedic president (Patrick Clear) and Provost (Janet Ulrich Brooks) each actor nailed the roles and brought much spark to the intense production. The actors also used the thrust theater to their advantage, making the audience feel all actions taking place. Director Evan Cabnet unified all theatrical aspects and issues within the production. Cabnet helped all feel the emotions of the actors along with the various hard hitting concepts.
Future audiences should be aware, the play was not family friendly. The production was very graphic as scenes depicted all kinds of sexual behavior. Throughout the performance a sense of discomfort was felt throughout the audience. Although the production was lengthy and explicit it was fresh, and like nothing I had ever seen before.