- April 9, 2019
In a world where gender realignment is something many of us no longer think is a thing to be scared of or ashamed of, we still find that it is taboo. Why? Well this finely crafted and beautifully performed play by Jon Brittain opens up this Pandora’s box of emotional trauma and moral questioning to brilliant effect.
Oscar Wilde famously declared that homosexuality was the love that dare not speak its name, but that in hindsight was only the tip of a very ugly iceberg.
Here four young people, confronted by the issues surrounding transitioning, struggle to deal with so many questions, many of which we the audience may have also been afraid to ask. The issues surrounding transitioning are volatile, to ask the questions we wish too can be invasive and politically incorrect. Rotterdam tackles this by placing those questions in the mouths of the involved and it does the job with alarming impact but also with great sensitivity.
Donnacadh O’Briain’s direction is a deft balance of sensitive and brutal, steering the four characters through a minefield of anger, bitterness and of course love. Lucy Jane Parkinson beautifully portrays the role of Fiona as she declare that she is he and starts the journey to being Adrian. Bethan Cullinane is equally impressive as fragile Alice, not yet able to fully come to terms with her sexuality, even after seven years in a lesbian relationship with Fiona and now being asked to embrace being in love with a male. Ellie Morris is the cookie Dutch Lelani, flamboyant, out and looking for love in the city of Rotterdam, the city they have all chosen to make their home but in fact not so much home as an emotional no mans land.
And throughout there is Josh, Fiona/Adrian’s older brother who, despite his own history in this complex menage, is the voice of gentle reason. Elijah W Harris is finely tuned in the role, often selfless, totally accepting and a beacon of hope in this fraught and often taught drama. It’s a role beautifully played, contained yes, but filled with kindness. The whole drama is in fact so taught that it could make for a very uncomfortable evening of theatre but here, in such skilled hands both on stage and off, it makes theatre of the kind that makes you think, smile and finally go home feeling that some of those questions have been answered. It’s poignant, funny and reaffirms ones belief in the power of great theatre.
Theatre Royal Brighton