Already closed

Rotterdam

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great writing
85
Critics
78
25 reviews
Members
87
62 reviews
 

Hartshorn - Hook Foundation Ltd presents this bittersweet, Olivier Award-winning comedy about gender, sexuality, and being a long way from home. Part of 59E59's annual Brits Off Broadway festival.

... Read more

It's New Year's in Rotterdam, and Alice has finally plucked up the courage to email her parents to tell them she's gay. But before she can hit send, her lover, Fiona, reveals that he has always identified as a man and now wants to start living as one named Adrian. As Adrian begins his transition, Alice must face a question she never thought she'd ask: Does this mean she's straight?

 

Cast & Creatives (11)



Reviews (87)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

60
The New York Times

"Josh, and even Adrian, are woefully underwritten, making us empathize more with Alice’s confusion after her relationship is drastically redefined. The director, Donnacadh O’Briain, moves things along swiftly...The course of love is not quite as smooth...Writing a complicated transgender role means accepting the possibility that the character may not be entirely likable, which may be Mr. Brittain’s finest achievement." Full Review

95
BroadwayWorld

“This is a show that will touch the hearts and minds of everyone, a topical play that must be seen…An insightful view of love and identity. It captures the intensity of four people's situations while conveying the humor of everyday life. You will be in awe of the talented cast that brings every moment of this stirring play to life. Each of their character portrayals is spot-on…They master the fast-paced dialogue along with the rapid scene changes…An affecting play, brilliantly presented.” Full Review

70
Time Out New York

"A sincere but overlong dramedy...The play feels very B.C.: Before Caitlyn...At times it seems positively quaint. Even so, 'Rotterdam' poses pertinent questions about what makes us who we are, with surprising humor and knockout performances...All of the characters are feeling growing pains of some kind. That helps 'Rotterdam' reach beyond its semi-topical trans hook. We are all perpetually on the way to who we want to be, and can only hope that those we love will join us on the path." Full Review

85
Lighting & Sound America

"Under Donnacadh O'Briain's fast-paced direction, we seem to catch the characters on the fly, breathlessly bopping from one crisis and/or revelation to the next; it's a measure of his work, and Brittain's writing, that we become attached to both Alice and Adrian...All four cast members are in sync with the script's sharp-elbowed wit as well as the deeper emotions underneath...Credit 'Rotterdam' for treating its complex subject with sensitivity and wit." Full Review

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“'Rotterdam' packs a strong emotional punch but it also includes a number of savvy laugh lines…Donnacadh O'Briain does a marvelous job of keeping the action lively and engrossing…The acting is gripping. Freeman and McCarthy partner perfectly, each offering performances of vulnerability and strength…'Rotterdam''s power is a bit dissipated by its overlong two and a half hours…But it's a better spent two and a half hours than you'll find at most other recent Off-Broadway offerings.” Full Review

85
Front Mezz Junkies

“A deeply affecting play…What a tremendous gift we have all been given. The play is rich and edgy, steeped in an authentic sound and fury…Beautifully crafted by the creative team of designers, the piece moves effortlessly forward with a well thought out ear for honesty and authenticity…It’s a delicate subject to grapple with, but this production nails it…Each moment is filled with perfectly exacting moments of dialogue that resonate and portray the dilemmas before them." Full Review

85
Bob's Theater Blog

"Freeman is extremely moving in a second-act scene when Adrian is overwhelmed by events. My main problem with the play is that Alice is such an uptight sourpuss that it is hard to understand why anyone would want her. Also, there are plot developments near the end that seemed forced...The clever, attractive set by Ellan Parry makes maximum use of a small stage; the costumes, especially for Lelani, are vivid." Full Review

45
Talkin' Broadway

"These are important issues, more than worthy of being explored...Unfortunately, 'Rotterdam' does little to move things forward. Instead of probing deeply into the questions being raised, the play deals with everything at a surface level...It doesn't help move things along when the playwright brings in a pair of supporting characters who are even less developed than the two at the center...A missed opportunity to deal directly with the issues the play raises but fails to elucidate." Full Review

85
Theatermania

"What matters most about this show isn't the excellence of its constituent parts, though. It's what they create when combined. The punch of the script, together with the fierce acting and unifying direction, make for a living, aching portrait of a trans man and a transitioning relationship. And what relationship isn't always transitioning?...The triumph of 'Rotterdam' is the triumph of all great theater: It finds its way to the universal through the personal." Full Review

90
BlogCritics.org

"A remarkable fusion of classic scene-crafting and up-to-the-minute social concerns—gutsy, wrenching, and beautifully acted...Brittain’s script plays this game sharply throughout, holding onto its revelations then springing them like New Year’s Eve fireworks...Exquisitely toned performances make Alice and Fiona extraordinarily real...The play is full of powerful scenes...Meaty insight, sinewy dialogue and performances, and top-notch skill from beginning to end." Full Review

85
Theatre is Easy

"An emotionally complex, and deftly written play, directed beautifully by O’Briain...Wonderfully designed in such a way that enables the emotional moments of the production to soar beyond what is scripted...Its conversation on the subject of the trans community is handled in a way that feels genuine, and never heavy-handed...Freeman shows us an individual surpassing gender identity, giving us a performance altogether devastating, hopeful, and incredibly relatable." Full Review

80
TheaterScene.net

“Though director Donnacadh O'Briain has a real challenge negotiating so many quick scene changes, and you may feel, at times, that there's too much shouting and anger about--making it a sort of ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia’ without the ‘Woolf’-- ‘Rotterdam’ is really a smart play that gets you thinking about transsexuals in new and vital ways.” Full Review

90
Woman Around Town

"A thing of surprising beauty...It’s generous with its open heart and wrenching in its honesty...'Rotterdam' is blessed with a perfectly on-point script by Jon Brittain and a quartet of actors who deliver universally outstanding performances. Brittain achieves a perfect balance of humor and heartbreak, proffering the opportunity to feel sharply contrasting emotions that somehow actually make the entire experience both realistic and bearable." Full Review

45
ZEALnyc

"While the script approaches its subject matter with sensitivity, humor, and a certain amount of complexity, heavy-handed performances from several cast members dilute the play’s power...Brittain’s play has moments of didacticism, but is ultimately more of a relationship drama...McCarthy delivers a nuanced performance...Unfortunately, the other three actors frequently seem to be trying too hard...Some of the staging choices also seem ill-considered." Full Review

90
ThisbroadSway

"Writer Jon Brittain takes you on a deeply emotional journey that is not drawn in a straight line, but with many complex twists and turns that will have you completely immersed...The subject matter is perfect fuel for emotional outbursts that are convincingly portrayed by this stunning cast and neatly directed by Donnacadh O’Briain...Do not miss." Full Review

80
Exeunt Magazine

“One of Brittain’s greatest strengths as a playwright is his control of information delivery…‘Rotterdam’ also explores the ways in which relationships — romantic, platonic, and familial — connect us. This is done as much through Donnacadh O’Briain’s direction and Ellan Parry’s set design as it is through text…‘Rotterdam’ isn’t trying to show a universal experience, because there isn’t one. And that’s a key lesson as well: that by rejecting universality, 'Rotterdam' gets that much closer to it.” Full Review

60
What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "An amiable, if superficial, thing. Sitcoms thrive on identity crises and 'Rotterdam's' chock-full of them...Brittain takes a sitcom tone, one that makes a hefty issue immediately accessible, at the cost of complexity and credibility...The script can feel more like a public infomercial than decent drama. It's all superficial and over-simplification...Yet, a committed, sparky and engaging cast keep it watchable, carving out characters you care for, despite disbelieving." Full Review

70
The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "There is lots bubbling behind the sitcom exterior of a play that is often very funny, engaging and sharply observant about human nature, but Brittain’s facility for writing engaging dialogue means that he doesn’t always dig as deeply into the characters as the subject demands...O’Briain’s production has a pleasing, pop-like shininess but he does let things get a bit shouty...Even if you can’t quite believe the individuals or their relationships, there is plenty to enjoy in the journey." Full Review

85
The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "Brittain’s lively, sensitive, hard-hitting piece about love, gender and sexuality. Brittain handles complex issues with great honesty and thoughtfulness, but also with a refreshing amount of wit...Donnacadh O’Briain’s confident production maintains an ideal equilibrium between all elements in the writing. There’s much admirable, agonized work from Martine as Fiona/Adrian, but even better is McCarthy...A compelling evening’s theatre." Full Review

85
The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Brittain’s warm-hearted new play manages to speak eloquently about a complex issue while at the same time being properly laugh-out-loud funny. It’s an arresting combination...There’s also delicacy and truth to the writing–this is a very human play, one that never feels overtly issue-driven or forced. The central tangle of relationships in Donnacadh O’Briain’s production is shaded and emotionally engaging, and there are strong performances all round." Full Review

80
The Times (UK)

for a previous production "It’s all a bit 'As You Like It,' set in Ikea. In the best possible sense...Donnacadh O’Briain’s production has plenty of the sitcom about it, pulsing with electro-pop and opening with a slow-start scene of predictable, domestic bickering. It gets subtler, which has a lot to do with two impressive central performances...A sequence of reveals in early scenes feels like an unsuccessful segue into melodrama. Yet there’s too much to enjoy here for any of this to matter much." Full Review

90
Time Out London

for a previous production "Brittain has written four wonderful characters, the central couple giving McCarthy and Martine the chance to put in two powerful performances...While the play sensitively probes the difficulties of being gay and of being transgender, Brittain never lets the seriousness drown out the humour...Brittain’s play is another reminder – warm, witty and wise – of the stupidity of thinking that there are only two genders. He has an eye for tenderness." Full Review

85
Here is the City

for a previous production "Martine really pulls the role off. She’s got the toughest part in the play where in the first half she's Fiona but in the second half she's the masculine-looking Adrian. It’s an excellent transformation. The rest of the cast are all almost as perfect...Writer Jon Brittain hits the nail on the head in dealing with this issue...Donnacadh O’Brian excellently directs the cast, with a clever set and great pulsating music by Robyn." Full Review

90
Everything Theatre (UK)

for a previous production "A fascinating story takes us inside four surprisingly complex characters. The script is incisive and extremely funny, but never loses sight of its central theme...The cast brought the story to life with eye-catching performances throughout. Alice McCarthy is a pure delight...'Rotterdam' works like a dream because it presents the audience with brilliant characters and a flowing script that left us itching for the next line; always truthful but often humorous." Full Review

80
Live Theatre UK

for a previous production "Sharply written, very funny and faultlessly acted...This is a heavy topic for a play, yet the laughter is never far away and no time does the audience feel hectored or preached at...The comedy perhaps works better in this play than the discussion of sexual politics and gender identity. But the comedy works very well indeed, and the exploration of the meaning of gender and how much or little that constrains and shapes wider identity is far from trivial." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
87
Avg Score

92
Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Relevant, Great writing

See it if Beautifully acted and written drama about identity, love and compassion. You truly care about these characters. Many moved to tears at end.

Don't see it if You don't care for plays about transgender people.

88
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if Examinations of sexual orientation and gender identity fascinate U, U like the intimacy of a tiny theater where action is in your face.

Don't see it if You prefer more intellectual and theoretical discussions of the above, would find fault with slight tendency to overacting and soap-opera.

Also This is definitely a worthy evening of theater, really a must-see. Eve... Read more Read less

90
Funny, Intense, Thought-provoking, Romantic, Touching

See it if Wonderful exploration of sexuality, love, and searching for self-understanding. Excellent characters, dialog, and youthful setting.

Don't see it if You are not interested in alternative sexuality and gender issues. You don't like relationship dramas.

Also The ending felt inconsistent to me. I was invested in the characters a... Read more Read less

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you're interested in stories about gay & transgender topics, are open-minded, OK with brief partial nudity & language

Don't see it if are not interested in LGBT topics, don't enjoy small,close up intimate theater setting, are offended by language and brief partial nudity

Also Very topical story about lesbian & transgender situations. Great story... Read more Read less

79
Very well done show about a very interesting subject. terrific performances.

See it if You like thought provoking that's done well.

Don't see it if You don't like thought provoking theatre.

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Long

See it if you want to see an intense depiction of the impact of transgender transitioning on the person involved as well as on friends and family.

Don't see it if you are not interested in the topic of gender identity.

Also The performance by Anna Martine Freeman as Fiona/Adrian is stunning.

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a realistic emotional story performed by INCREDIBLE actors. The journey of these characters is riveting start to finish.

Don't see it if You dislike shows with LGBT themes.

Also See it before it heads back to the UK. There's a reason it won the Oli... Read more Read less

90
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting

See it if Deep, profound and moving. Fleshed out characters and motives. Relatable in so many human ways. Superb acting! Clear why it won the Olivier.

Don't see it if You don't care about LGBT themes.

Also This is way more than just about gender. It's about love, loss, doubt,... Read more Read less

82
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you are interested in gender, sexuality, seeing an excellent, intimate performance that is both funny and thoughtful

Don't see it if you are homophobic, want a big production

79
Too long, Weighty, Validating, Funny while poignant

See it if Affecting play about gender roles, with one character graceful and confused, two confusing in their motivation and one annoyingly strident.

Don't see it if Still, the sliding scale of gender identity is explored bravely and sympathetically, as is the willingness to face up to issues.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You want to see a play with a wonderful message about human relationships.

Don't see it if You don't like gay themed plays or prefer a larger production.

83
Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You enjoy strong female led casts that are funny and smart. Heartbreaking & beautiful, worth the tears and the length.

Don't see it if A play about sexuality and transformation aren't for you. It's 2.5hrs and it does drag in places, but the overall story makes it worth it.

84
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Must see

See it if Coming out and facing issues of sexual orientation and gender identity interest you. Very intense problems and situations.

Don't see it if You prefer to ignore and remain ignorant of LGBTQ issues.

92
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Important

See it if You are interested in learning about the current societal issue of transgender as it relates to young people. This is a play with a heart !

Don't see it if You cannot deal with seeing very painful and very personal issues of sexual identity portrayed literally almost in your face. See it anyway!

82
Original, Relevant, Resonant, Engaging

See it if want to see a very original coming-out identity play with lots of interesting insights. Some rough edges, but well conceived and performed.

Don't see it if you are not ready to empathize with two people finding themselves.

86
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You want an exceptional play dealing with the delicate topic of transgender and gay relationships affecting those involved and beyond.

Don't see it if The subject mentioned above turns you off.

80
Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you enjoy good character development in the face of conflict.

Don't see it if you feel uncomfortable with non-traditional sexual roles.

100
Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You have an interest in LGBT issues and real discussions around sexuality and gender. You enjoy great acting and thought provoking subjects

Don't see it if You have no interest in discussions of gender and LGBT relationships. Want a big production. This is intimate and real.

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Great writing

See it if You want to watch a great drama and see the plight of lgbtq group. One of the best acting that I have ever seen.

Don't see it if You hate lgbtq themes. Or else don't miss it! A little bit slow in Act 1, but Act 2 is beyond amazing!

90
Masterful, Profound, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting

See it if You want to explore the dimensions of sexual identity.

Don't see it if You are looking for a light play just to get entertain.

93
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You want to know more about people you care for in crisis. The couple is facing a challenge to their relationship and love. Can love survive

Don't see it if You don't care to view couples in crisis.

94
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you want a deeply emotional show that touches on a variety of queer themes. I'm not a crier, but I sobbed during a particular scene.

Don't see it if you don't like queer subject matter, or you're looking for something light.

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy excellent acting, an extremely current plot, moving and thought-provoking subject matter.

Don't see it if transgender and gay subject matter is a turn-off for you. Otherwise, don't miss it.

Also One of the best off-off-Broadway shows I have seen in a long time. Ver... Read more Read less

80
Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You are someone who thinks about gender fluidity, likes well-written plays that provoke thought & discussion, support new plays.

Don't see it if You've got unchangeable opinions about the gender binary.

100
Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Great writing

See it if you're interested in relationships, why people make the choices they do, and especially if gender and queer issues interest you

Don't see it if You recoil from gender and queer issues on stage or if that's a raw subject for you

Also I was spellbound by this show - it's theater at its best. Amazing prod... Read more Read less