Friday, 30 June 2017

Rotterdam | Arts Theatre

Where to start with Rotterdam? I don't usually struggle to find the words to talk about a piece of theatre (usually if I do it's because I didn't enjoy it) but I found this play to be so enjoyable and important that I'm not sure what I have to say will do it justice. In Rotterdam, Alice is about to come out to her parents when her girlfriend, Fiona, reveals she is actually a transgender man. Fiona becomes Adrian and the play is about the strain that this places on their relationship. It deals with issues about transitioning, gender and sexuality which are topics that some people have a lot of questions about in an age where trans people are slowly becoming more visible and accepted.

The cast is small but mighty. Anna Martine as Fiona/Adrian was superb. During the second act, Adrian has been taking hormones to help him transition and Martine's movements and mannerisms had clearly changed so that us as the audience could understand this without it being said. Without giving any spoilers away, there's a scene in act two where I could really feel Adrian's raw pain and the emotion I felt from Martine's performance was heartbreaking. Alice McCarthy, in the role of Alice, was also excellent and held her own in a play where the focus could easily be all about the character of Fiona/Adrian. McCarthy begins as quiet and mousy but her character develops and we see some real honesty and likeability as she learns to stand up for herself. The pair had great on-stage chemistry too.

Supporting actors Ellie Morris as Dutch party girl Lelani and Ed Eales-White as Josh added comic value (Eales-White's deadpan line delivery was particularly funny) but didn't feel like spare parts and again, as the plot developed, they became more three-dimensional characters and are integral to the outcome of the piece. The excellent acting was supported by a really exciting box set whereby the scene changes were so well-done that it was actually interesting (and entertaining) to watch the actors rearrange the props. The use of lighting, sound and colour subtly enhanced the plot, making the whole piece a pleasure to watch.

This piece is so culturally important. In an age where people are slowly becoming able to talk more openly about the constructions of gender and labels regarding sexuality it is inevitable that people who have never experienced these issues will have questions to ask. Rotterdam simultaneously asks and answers some of these questions in an entertaining and non-condescending way. My mom put it very well when she said that "Rotterdam should be compulsory in all schools" to help people better understand transgender issues and I completely agree that this is both an educational and captivating piece. I found it incredibly emotional I cannot recommend it enough.

Rotterdam is playing a limited run at the Arts Theatre (until 15th July) so be sure to head over to their website to pick yourself up a couple of tickets!


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