Review | Rotterdam at the Arts Theatre, London

Alice is in a state of extreme anxiety as she composes an email from her apartment in Rotterdam to her parents informing them she is gay. Her girlfriend Fiona is providing much needed support but also has news of her own; she announces that she feels like a man, has always felt like a man and is ready to start transitioning into a man. In fact, she would like to start being referred to as Adrian. Over the next two hours we witness the fallout of such a decision and the impact on each partner, a sibling and a rather annoying work colleague. This production plays very much like a sitcom, somewhat reminiscent of Will & Grace. Is there anything wrong with this? Absolutely not. It makes for an entertaining evening with laughs aplenty. However, at a time when LGBT+ rights are under attack this production could have provided a fascinating insight into a marginalised minority group and the difficulties and triumphs they face. It’s therefore disappointing that it doesn’t provide any great insight at all but is mostly played for comedy. If it was played more ‘straight’ (pun intended) the humour would have had more impact and it would be a much more engaging and thought provoking evening. The performances are a mixed bag. Alice McCarthy as girlfriend Alice does some beautiful and detailed work as she struggles to find her voice amidst the enormity of her partner’s decision. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t allow her to delve deeper and explore the pressure and conflicts someone would undoubtedly feel should their partner be transitioning. Anna Martine Freeman as Fiona / Adrian comes into her own in the second half. Her performance as Adrian is sensitive, moving, subtle and we genuinely care for this brave character. Her sense of loss and pain during the play’s climax has great impact and is a highlight. It’s a shame this story doesn’t pack more of a dramatic punch. However, with a great soundtrack by Keegan Curran and a punchy script by Jon Brittain this is certainly an entertaining evening and like any good sitcom will leave you chuckling away into the night. Rating – 3/5 Words by Matthew Hyde Rotterdam plays at the Arts Theatre until 15th July For more great deals on tickets and shows visit tickets.attitude.co.uk.