To be gay or not to be gay—‘Teddy Ferrara’ at Goodman Theatre – by Olivia Day

March 12, 2013 in Blog by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

A debut at Goodman Theatre, Christopher Shinn’s “Teddy Ferrara” is shocking audiences with its intense intimacy and its crude portrayal of life on a college campus as an LGBTQ student. While the play is interesting and keeps the attention of the audience, mostly by all the sex scenes, it leaves much to be desired.

“Teddy Ferrara” is a depiction of a group of LGBTQ identified students facing struggles after the suicide of one student that might have been gay and another student, Teddy Ferrara (Ryan Hiendl), who is gay. Gabe (Liam Benzvi), the All-American gay guy; sought after by a slew of different guys; Drew (Adam Poss), Gabe’s on –again, off –again boyfriend with a bad habit of trying to hook –up with straight guys, who is also the editor –in –chief of the school newspaper; and Tim (Josh Salt), Gabe’s best friend who might be gay, but has a girlfriend.

While Gabe is the main character of the play, he is not very memorable, but neither are most of the cast. It is hard to tell whether Poss’s depiction of Drew is good or if it is bad. Drew’s character is very insecure and annoying because he constantly needs gratification of his attractiveness to other men. That is why he tries to hook up with straight men, like the first student that commits suicide and Tim. Drew’s character is very obnoxious and annoying and that comes across in the play, but Drew is not memorable. He is simply an arrogant, insecure gay guy.

Teddy Ferrara; he is a seemingly shy, introverted, self-conscious freshman. That image changes when he logs online. On his friendly pornographic websites he is a social butterfly, wanted by all. Hiendl does a brilliant job of portraying the awkwardness of Teddy. When Teddy commits suicide it is unexpected. Hiendl shows that the way someone might seem on the outside is not always how they are on the inside. Teddy seems weird to everyone he encounters, but he never truly seems suicidal.

One particularly enjoyable –scene is right before Teddy commits suicide. He is at a club and goes outside. He sees Nicky (Rashaad Hall) and says hi. Nicky takes one look at Teddy and walks away. It is obvious that he thinks he is too good for Teddy. This scene tells a lot about human nature. It portrays the superficial, judgmental part of a human’s brain. Not coincidentally, the scene after this one is when Teddy commits suicide. This specific scene is telling of how life is for Teddy.

This play is not for the faint-hearted. To see this play an open-mind is a must, since a good amount of the play involves male-on-male sex scenes. Overall, I enjoyed seeing this debut, but I wish that the characters were more memorable, and I wish that the script was more complete  One thing this play will do is force thought on the issue: Is being gay a problem at a big university?