REVIEW: Rotterdam (Arts Theatre) ★★★★★

Rotterdam Arts Theatre

Knowing who you really are is not always easy. Some people seem to have known who they are for years; others have finally worked it out, but haven’t told anyone else and some of us will never truly understand ourselves.

Alice (Alice McCarthy) knows she’s a lesbian and has in fact known for a while. What she doesn’t know is how to tell her parents. But she’s ready to take the plunge by sending them an email explaining everything. Her girlfriend Fiona (Anna Martine Freeman) on the other hand, came out when she was 10.

With her fingers poised to send the email, Fiona suddenly announces that she has always in fact seen herself as a man – a man called Adrian. As time passes, both Alice and Adrian struggle to come to terms with the changes and figure out who they are…

In Rotterdam, Jon Brittain looks at how people are perceived, not only by strangers, but by the people they love and – perhaps most importantly – by themselves. With very few trans stories in the public eye, Rotterdam begins to show us what it’s like to transition – the confusion, anger and ignorance they have to face from those around them.

The acting is fantastic, taking your emotions on a rollercoaster of a ride – at times you despise each character, yet you also want to go out and party with them (especially Lelani – played by Ellie Morris); and you also want to give them all a hug (particularly Josh – Ed Eales-White – who is so understanding of both Alice and Adrian, despite everything that’s happened). In fact, there’s so much passion and emotion on the stage that each character and their reactions are still in your head for days after.

Keegan Curran‘s soundtrack is beyond epic and when combined with Richard Williamson‘s lighting and Ellen Parry’s clever design takes the scene from the awkward and intense to the exciting and dangerous.

These are stories that need to be told and Rotterdam rises to the challenge with both sensitivity and compassion. It’s well-written, colourful and wondrously engaging.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Photo: Hunter Canning

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