Rotterdam at Trafalgar StudiosCultureTheatre
At Trafalgar Studios, Rotterdam is a remarkable play about love and identity written by Jon Brittain and directed by Donnacadh O’Briain. While the themes are gay and transgender – and quite cutting edge, as the subject is relatively rare in theatre – it is a piece that is universally human: how we define our uniqueness both without and within the context of relationship. How can we be seen by the world as our true selves? How is love defined? What is the true root of it? How important is exterior identity versus essence? Thus Rotterdam debates the significance of gender roles and identity within the context of love. It is about the acknowledgment and acceptance of self and other.
As a rather uptight executive, Alice is in her first gay relationship with Fiona, who reveals that she has always been internally male and wants to live as a man named Adrian. While Alice has been nervously debating about coming out to her parents via email, Fiona’s confession has further confused the issue. She loves Fiona, but can she love Adrian? Will this mean she is now straight? Lalani, a young, exuberant, Dutch lesbian who works with Alice, creates a love triangle as she flirts with and beguiles Alice, helping her become more adventurous and less fearful. The affable mediator in this ménage is Josh, Alice’s ex and Fiona/Adrian’s brother, who is helplessly attached to both and finds himself staying in Rotterdam, a port town they all speak of leaving but never do, for them.
Completely focused, magnetic and believable, the acting in this work is truly excellent. Alice McCarthy recreates the intense, confused Alice to perfection, Anna Martine as Fiona/Adrian shows tremendous talent as an artist, Jessica Clark is vivaciously charismatic as Lelani, and Ed Eales-White plays Josh seamlessly. The direction is tight, brilliant and flawless, and the writing is witty, moving, on-point and superb. The stage decor – harmoniously re-arranged by the actors while dancing to vibrant rock music – is stylish, simple and very cool.
A terrific piece of theatre, Rotterdam poignantly examines LGBT issues while also reaching beyond sexual orientation to the universally human. Very funny as well as significant and thought-provoking, the work is an outstanding production.
Rotterdam is on at Trafalgar Studios from 26th July until 27th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch actress Anna Martine discuss taking on a transgender role here: