I friggin’ love the Donmar. It is probably my favourite ever theatre (sorry Globe), which I suspect has something to do that the first thing I saw there was Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston, but nevertheless I have always enjoyed my visits there.
What’s more, my visits are always super duper cheap. They run this brilliant scheme called Barclays Front Row, enabling you to buy front row seats for £10 for EVERY PERFORMANCE. The tickets are available online on Mondays at 10am for performances two weeks later, and they usually sell out within minutes so it’s worth hovering around on the web page a couple of minutes before to click the link the instant it goes live. The view from the seats are always amazing (like I said, they’re all front row), but in case you miss out then the standard ticket prices are actually pretty reasonable, and usually standing tickets at the rear of the circle are sold on the day for £7.50.
The Donmar is a pretty tiny theatre (251 seats wowzahs) but this is definitely one of the reasons why it’s my favourite. The performance feels so much more immediate and intimate as a result, but never claustrophobic or restricted, and there is still capacity for incredibly powerful set design; just google their production of City of Angels and you’ll see what I mean.
Teddy Ferrara is a perfect play for this space. Set in an American university, the story follows Gabe, the chair of the LGBTQ students group, but this is a play about so much more than that. It’s about bureaucracy, the generation gap, relationships (both good and bad) – and it’s fantastic to see disabled and trans people being represented on stage.
But , for me, the best thing about this production is the three-dimensionality of the characters. Yes, this is a political play, but there’s a real narrative that draws you in, and some cracking acting. Ryan McParland is simultaneously sympathetic and repugnant as Teddy, and Luke Newberry (a long-time favourite of mine – if you haven’t seen In the Flesh then evaluate your life choices) is excellent and totally believable as Gabe. They are all flawed characters, brilliantly written and directed: they all identify as gay but the play acknowledges that no two experiences of identifying as queer is the same (something I felt My Night with Reg lacked).
This is – and please excuse the wanky phrasing – an incredibly truthful but entertaining play, always managing to avoid being preachy. Christopher Shinn is saying very important things very very well.
The run ends on Saturday 5th December, so get your arse in gear and head over to the Donmar. I promise you it will be worth it.
All photos via the Donmar Warehouse website here.