What a treat it was to not only see Jon Brittain‘s Rotterdam again last night, but to be able to question this hugely talented young writer about his bittersweet comedy, which ranked amongst my Top Ten new plays of last year.
The play – set in the titular Dutch city, where Jon once spent months (unhappily) working in a call centre – centres on the relationship between Alice, who wants to come out as a lesbian, and her girlfriend, who wants to start living as a man. As Fiona begins transitioning into Adrian, Alice must face a question she never thought she’d ask… if her partner is a man, does this mean she’s straight?
After last night’s performance – ahead of tonight’s West End premiere at Trafalgar Studios 2, where the production has transferred following its success last year at Theatre 503 – I chaired a post-show Q&A with Jon, as well as designer Ellan Parry, associate director Roxy Cook and special guest Ash Palmisciano. Ash is a trans commentator from charity Gendered Intelligence and has recently completed his own transition.
Jon spent five years researching and writing Rotterdam after seeing two friends transition. How realistic is the experience he captures in the play? How have attitudes towards gender fluidity changed, even in the past few years? What does ‘non-binary’ mean in relation to gender? How does gender differ from sexuality? How does language fail us when we try to understand and talk about gender issues? What does the set design add, visually and metaphorically, to Ikea? And, one for fashionistas, where can you get your own pair of orange glitter boots… in London… in June? What does the music add? Is the city of Rotterdam really that awful? How long do we have to wait for the Amsterdam-set sequel?
Rotterdam continues at Trafalgar Studios until 27 August 2016.
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) July 27, 2016
Event photography by Peter Jones.