Rotterdam at the Theatre Royal Brighton Review

8-10 April 2019

Reviewed by Louise Watts

Back in the late 2000’s, Jon Brittain wrote the script to Rotterdam, inspired by several of his friends transitioning. First performed in 2015, it had won an Olivier award by 2017. In a world of attempting to reduce prejudice against people, this story tells a beautiful story about two girls Alice and Fiona and their battle with their sexuality and gender.

Based in Rotterdam, a long way from the girls’ home, Alice has the difficult decision to make as to when and how to tell her parents that she is gay. She is almost at the point where she is going to do it when her girlfriend Fiona announces that she has always identified as a man and would like to transition. This faces Alice with another dilemma. If Fiona transitions and lives as a man and Alice stays with her, does that mean she is in fact straight and not gay?

The story was compelling from the beginning. Although on face value this is a very straightforward story, the depth of emotion is incredible and the love and compassion you develop for each of the characters is phenomenal. There are only 4 actors in the show and each one deserves the highest accolade as they were all outstanding. Lucy Jane Parkinson who played Fiona / Adrian was captivating. I have never before seen such raw, real and intensely emotive acting. By the end of the second half, I had tears streaming down my face and the biggest lump in my throat. The pain this character was experiencing was like nothing I have ever felt before. I was completely immersed in their world and could feel every ounce of emotion exhibited by all the characters. Bethan Cullinane who played Fiona / Adrian’s partner Alice was equally as brilliant. You could not help but feel for her character who after years of trying to pluck up the courage to admit to her parents that she is gay, her whole world is turned upside down and everything she had believed to be real was in fact false. You could feel the story from all angles and just prayed that there would be a happy ending for both of them.

Both Lucy Jane and Bethan were supported on stage by Ellie Morris who played Lelani, the other lady trying to find a place in Alice’s heart. You could not help but dislike Lelani by the end of the show but this only goes to show how good her acting was and how complicated the situation was. Elijah W Harris played Fiona / Adrian’s big brother and Alice’s ex-partner. He was the grounded one of the 4 who just wanted to do whatever he could to make everything ok with everybody. You could not help but love him as a character.

The set was simple but worked really well and the set changes were done subtly and swiftly with minimal disruption to the story and the costumes were eccentric at times but completely fitting with the story.

This show is recommended for ages 15+ due to the sensitive content. I have a daughter of 15 years and a daughter of 13 years and to be honest, the subjects in this show are run of the mill issues at school nowadays and they generally teach me about this! However due to the language at times and the adult themes, I would back the age range recommended.

The Theatre Royal Brighton is a lovely theatre. The staff always look very smart and are polite and helpful at all times. There are a couple of bars selling snacks and drinks and prices are what you would expect for a city theatre. It is easily accessible by public transport and just as easy by car. There is a car par just a few minutes’ walk away and they offer an evening rate of £6.50. That may seem quite expensive on first thought but bear in mind this is a venue in the centre of a big city.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £13 to £38.90 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).

Rotterdam is at the Theatre Royal in Brighton from 8-10 April 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7650.

Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1SD | 0844 871 7650

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