The suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi shook the foundation of not only his school, but also the whole country. Everywhere, schools sought to adjust the harsh attitude towards gay students. Christopher Shinn’s “Teddy Ferrara,” directed by Evan Cabinet, began with a similar event, and opened the stage for an insightful step toward ending gay prejudice. Unfortunately, “Teddy Ferrara” fails to assert any meaningful message, despite the numerous ever-present — gay bullying, gay rights or sexual identity.
The play was almost unbearable. I found myself begging for light dimming a good minute before I was relieved, and was appalled at the gratuitous mentions toward sexual encounters. Not only was this distracting, I found this terribly offensive. The entire play objectified gay relationships, seemingly only for physical gratification. Not one relationship of the cast was based on any emotional feeling, all pleasure based. Instead of embracing the affection and compassion gay relationships contain, the play characterized them as means to an end. Shinn failed to acknowledge the validity of same sex couples, degrading their even existence. An encounter between Drew, the manipulative boyfriend and Gabe, the compassionate lead, where Drew refuses to mediate his problems with Gabe and wants to instead “just make out” emphasizes the lack of emotional connection in their supposed relationship.
Another issue with the play was the inconsistency. The cell phone cues were interesting at first, but I found the unending “I just got a text,” comments annoying, not creative. No transitions or connections, just blatant statements following the receiving of a message. The interface with computers was also unexciting and unoriginal, and the chat rooms with the character Teddy took the innocent target of bullying and tainted him as bad if not worse than any of the characters. This characterization eliminated almost all compassion toward the victim of bullying, again taking away from any sort of message that should have been acknowledged.
All in all, this play contained minimal sustenance. No underlying theme of equality for gays or bisexuals or any genuine message in this play, merely a myriad of controversial and urgent topics danced around. I found this to be a dismal disappointment for all possible audiences. The play runs from Feb. 2 to March 3, 2013.