Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan
Lots of time I go to theater and it is good. Rarely, do I see a piece that’s exceptional. This is the case in Teenage Dick written by Mike Lew. It was so good that I gave a standing ovation at the curtain call. It’s gripping and awe-inspiring showing us that Persons with Disabilities are just as talented as the able-bodied world. Produced by Ma-yi theatre this is an awesome show
Think Richard III but with high schoolers. In this version Dick, short for Richard, has Cerebral Palsy, and as a result is bullied all the time, Thus he schemes to become class president. He manipulates and lies like Richard does in Shakespeare’s play, but unlike Richard, Dick struggles with his deception versus him better side, especially when he meets Anne Margaret, who eventually develops real feelings for Dick. Dick’s humanity is present along with his evil parts. We see him contemplate between deciding which path, and ultimately what kind of man he wants to be, he should choose, which makes us like this creep as we see he has a honest component in his make up.. His trickery causes him to to lose his one ally Buck. a fellow disabled person confined to a wheelchair.
Now for the great part; the actors. Greg Mozgala gives a superb performance as Dick. He is maniacal, yet comical when he delivers his soliloquies to the audience. Yet, what makes Mozgala unforgettable is his inner conflict between love and his plan for revenge. It is palpable and breathtaking simultaneously. His ability to show his inner conflict is unparalleled and rivals that of any leading man out there today. I would not be surprised if he gets a nomination for his performance. Equally Impressive is Shannon Devido as Buck. This actor is on top of her game and delivers every time we see her. She is hysterical, delivering some of the funniest plays in the play. Another actor I must mention is Tiffany Villarim as Ann Margret. Her journey is unbelievable to watch. Her last speech brought tears to our eyes. Witnessing her harrowing demise, caused mainly because of Dick, is heart wrenching. She is phenomenal in her role and holds her own.
Needless to say this is a must see! The time flew by and I didn’t want it to end. I do not think I will ever forget seeing this production. Simply put, go see this show NOW! I would not be surprised if the rest of the run is sold out. We can only hope for an extended run. This is a perfect example of theater that matters.
Teenage Dick plays now through July 29, 2018 at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St http://www.ma-yitheatre.com.