Adam at Battersea Arts Centre
When director Cora Bissett heard a short monologue by performer Adam Kashmiry about his experience as a transgender in Egypt, she immediately approached him to propose the making of a full-length production. Bissett entrusted writer Frances Poet with adapting the story for the stage and tweaking it a little to enhance the drama. Although Kashmiry himself was at first reluctant to play the protagonist, he eventually decided to be fully involved in the project.
The main purpose of the production is to clarify the trans experience for those who may be confused about what it involves psychologically and physically. The director believes that, unlike a documentary, which can be distant, being in the presence of a real person who has experienced the transition first-hand can make a world of difference. Indeed, the strength of the play is its authenticity and sense of intimacy. Kashmiry lets the audience in and draws sympathy not just through performing skills but because he is a reliable narrator.
Adam Kashmiry and actress Rehanna MacDonald take on various roles as they relate the protagonist’s journey from childhood to adulthood, from Egypt to Glasgow, and from a female body to a male body. The two actors both play Adam, sometimes as a “before” and “after”, and sometimes as doubles inside his mind. They also impersonate his family members and colleagues and their attempts to fix Adam’s looks, preferences and mannerisms.
The breakthrough happens when Adam googles his dilemma regarding his gender and finds countless testimonies of people who feel the same. The internet proves to be a portal of solace and new hopes, and the very existence of an online community validates the protagonist’s own hitherto confused experience and gives it a name. Once his choices and behaviour steer too far from the norm to be ignored, Adam is ostracised by his community and sees no other choice than to flee the country.
The play is supported by a strong soundtrack by Jocelyn Pook and is overall powerful also thanks to the effective lighting and a clever set up. The stage is a raised platform made of marbled tiles, which can be lifted to reveal a number of items that define the setting of each scene. Underneath the platform are torsos and limbs of mannequins framing the performance space.
There is nothing groundbreaking in the dialogues and nothing exceptional from a theatrical perspective except the truth that is at the centre of the story and that elevates the production. A piece of authentic storytelling, Adam is a personal tale that benefits enormously from being told by the very person who experienced it, making the audience much more receptive.
Photo: Eoin Carey
Adam is at Battersea Arts Centre from 18th September until 29th September 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Adam here: