Monday, 26 June 2017

Review Rotterdam

by Jon Brittain

Crossing The Boundaries

Alice loves Fiona - known as Fi, pronounced "fee" - but she hesitates about telling her parents. Fi loves Alice but she would also love to be another person.

The dislocated expat crowd around them in Holland's major port includes Alice's ex-boyfriend, Josh, who is something in IT.

And of course, Holland being Holland, this is a translingual play, as well as transgender drama, with the Dutch speaking fluent Dutch offstage (naturally) and fluent English onstage (according to the British characters, unnaturally naturally).

This includes blonde lesbian Lelani, the ultra-cool Dutch shipping firm colleague who draws close as Alice on the rebound bounces around like a helium-filled party balloon.

We may never learn the Dutch for "shipping contract". However this comedy drama has a stellar, pitch perfect characterization from Alice McCarthy as Alice, a demure and businesslike perfectionist even when she turns wild.

Anna Martine Freedman matches her as the firmly proactive and initially certain Fiona, although, we learn, she badly misjudges her options and the reactions of those around her.

Ed Eales-White as techie Josh, straining at the leash to leave, and Ellie Morris as Alice's zany shipping firm Dutch co-worker, Lelani are equally strong in the supporting roles.    

With writer Jon Brittain's spry, well-focussed first act plot, there's both acid drop wit and laugh-out-loud moments. There's also a cheekily pert and colourful design by Ellan Parry and precise, inventive direction by Donnacadh O'Briain showing visual and oral dexterity.

The second act feels less organic and more stretched out to reach the desired ending. A character announcing, "It's a metaphor" tipped what had been a quivering in-between story, in more ways than one, over a clunkily explicit edge.

However this prescient play. first produced in 2015 at Theatre503, has a knowing simplicity and also caught a zeitgeist. It cleverly stirs in a now recognisable bitter Brexit-like uncertainty into a psychedelic syrup of sexual and economic issues and it's a green light.

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