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May 23rd - May 25th
‘No, Alice, I don’t want to become a man, I just want to stop trying to be a woman.’
Following a critically-acclaimed, West-End run, Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam is embarking on a UK tour.
Alice wants to come out as a lesbian. Her girlfriend Fiona wants to start living as a man.
It’s New Year in Rotterdam, and Alice has finally plucked up the courage to email her parents and tell them she’s gay. But before she can hit send, Fiona reveals that he has always identified as a man and now wants to start living as one named Adrian.
Now, as Adrian begins his transition, Alice must face a question she never thought she’d ask… does this mean she’s straight?
A bittersweet comedy about gender, sexuality and being a long way from home from writer Jon Brittain, co-creator of Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, and writer of What Would Spock Do? and The Sexual Awakening of Peter Mayo.
Recommended ages 14+
★★★★★ “superb – insightful, energetic and perfectly-paced.” What’s On Stage
“Smartly observed and very funny… warm and emotionally intelligent” ★★★★ Evening Standard
“Brittain’s play is another reminder – warm, witty and wise – of the stupidity of thinking that there are only two genders” ★★★★ Time Out
★★★★ “This beautifully structured evening keeps blending the laugh-out-loud funny and the dab-your-eyes tender. Very funny, very human, very touching, very entertaining… Wonderful” The Times
★★★★ “… handles complex issues with great honesty and thoughtfulness, but also with a refreshing amount of wit.” Evening Standard
Production Photos by Helen Maybanks
Very moving well written and acted play some laugh out loud moments and thought provoking.
Some strange bits and unnecessary use of balloons - not environmentally friendly but well worth watching.
Choice Radio Worcester
Rotterdam comes to Malvern for a three day excursion as Jon Brittain's play takes to the stage for the latter part of the week.
Set in the Dutch city, the play revolves around a set of circumstances which lead the characters to question their sexuality and, more importantly, their identity. For Alice, who has lived in the city for years more by default than by choice, has decided to start the New Year - or rather, in the Dutch way, to end the Old Year - by finally coming out to her parents as a lesbian. By email. An email she has struggled to write, let alone have the courage to press the Send button. Nothing surprising or earth-shattering there.
Her partner Fiona, however, is on the brink of telling her that she has a secret of her own. She feels that she is really a man trapped in a woman's body and wants to begin the process of transitioning and henceforth will be called Adrian, the name she would have had it she had been born a boy.
Add to the mix her brother Josh (who also had a relationship with Alice) and the apparently free spirited Dutch lesbian Lelani (who also makes her move on her work colleague Alice) and the stage is set for a series of confrontations which, you feel, cannot end well for all of the participants...
Rotterdam is used as the location not only because the author grew up there but also being a port where, by definition, nothing is permanent, everything is on the move, the city itself being a representation of the very core of the play - transition. It is also a place symbolically away from the English characters natural and safe home and provides the added bonus of having The Beautiful South's excellent track of the same name played at the end of the piece.
In spite of the inevitability of heated arguments in such circumstances, the play is nonetheless interspersed with lightness, humour and touching moments and is set to a driving musical beat which allows some entertaining scene changes by Josh (but at one point is far too loud, actually preventing the actors' voices from being heard) and the set cleverly moves between the different locations including New Year's Eve celebrations and even a frozen river.
To be convincing, the part of Fiona/Adrian needs to be played sympathetically to get the audience on side, particularly as initial thoughts would be towards Alice and her dilemma. Fortunately, Lucy Jane Parkinson - herself a non-binary actor - handles it superbly and you feel for the circumstances she faces, and has faced for many years, as her relationship with Alice teeters on the brink. For if Alice is a lesbian, how could she then date a man?
The reception by audiences and critics appears to confirm that, whilst written by an author with no similar experiences himself, his research has indeed turned up a set of convincing characters and situations which, whilst potentially alien to many in the audience, is something slowly gaining in public perception. The size of the audience could and should certainly have been bigger purely on the basis that it is a well-written and acted play so don't let the subject matter put you off - it is something which one day you may unexpectedly have to deal with yourself…