Can something be funny and gruesome? Not gruesome in an over the top horror movie comedy kind of gruesome, but like mankind (and yes here I truly do mean MANkind) looking at its own reflection kind of gruesome. Teenage Dick is funny and tragic there is no other way to describe it. I was invited to see The Huntington’s Teenage Dick at Calderwood Pavilion for review. While I have all the play and production notes beforehand, I always see any performance without reading about it first. I like to come in as a blank slate and experience the art without any prejudgment. It’s how I try to go through life but of course we bring out own experience and privilege to everything we do, and Teenage Dick definitely reminds us of that.
While Teenage Dick is filled with humour, dance and drama there is a small moment of gory blood kind of gruesome. The much more unsettling part of the play is the despicable self-justified actions of a true villain kind of gruesome. And yet, the show definitely began as a comedy. Teenage Dick was smart and devious in its way of bringing a Shakespearean play to life in a whole new way. Teenage Dick has the same primal themes but seen with a few different lenses. Putting Shakespeare in different eras is nothing new, but Teenage Dick introduces new perspectives rarely seen before as central to the play but also by casting the talented actors they did.
Whether you read or remember any of Shakespeare‘s play will not matter too much. If you were an amateur or scholar of Shakespeare you will relish in a few familiar lines. The lines of this much more contemporary take on Richard III are lol funny thanks to the actors and their delivery.
It is a small ensemble, and every part is well played. Though at times soft spoken, Shannon DeVido earned the loudest roars from the audience sometime with just a perfected gesture and timing. The main character, Richard Gloucester, played by Gregg Mozgala, takes you on an intentionally uncomfortable ride. Louis Reyes McWilliams (Eddie Ivy) and Portland Thomas (Clarissa) play their archetypes well as Football quarterback/ big man on campus and goody two shoes, g-d fearing, over-achiever, among other things. Emily Townley (Elizabeth York) as the tortured school teacher character was relatable without being overly cliché and Zurin Villanueva played a very nuanced and believable popular girl.
The Huntington Theatre presents Teenage Dick at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End through January 2nd.
All tickets come with digital insurance. If you ever feel as if you would rather not see Teenage Dick in person — for any reason — you can easily exchange your tickets into a specially recorded version of this play. OR, you can purchase tickets to the digital version of Teenage Dick now.