Rotterdam/Malvern Theatres

WRITER Jon Brittain takes us on a journey down a rocky road with many a twist and curve encountered along the way.

It takes a brave person to try and unlock the secrets and sheer complexities of human relationships, but Brittain does this with great panache and style.

Alice (Rebecca Banatvala) lives with partner Fiona (Lucy Jane Parkinson) in the Dutch port of the title. Everything’s fine until the latter announces that she wants to be a man and from henceforth would like to be called Adrian.

The reason is because she’s always felt trapped in a woman’s body. And as far as she/he is concerned, there’s no reason why this should make any difference to their relationship.

But the trouble is that it does. Alice has her preferences and they don’t include men. She likes girls, so when the predatory Lelani (Stella Taylor) arrives on the scene, the cat really gets set among the pigeons.

Caught in the middle of this hormonal maelstrom is Josh (Paul Heath) who finds himself stuck in the uniquely gender neutral role of peacemaker and nurse.

Rotterdam is an intensely thought provoking piece. Blending humour and pathos, it cleverly sheds light on the myriad emotions felt by anyone who has arrived at an emotional crossroads in their life.

Brittain should therefore be congratulated for his perception and not least of all for his skilful skirting around the traps, pitfalls and clichés that a subject such as this might ordinarily present.

Meanwhile, director Donnacadh O’Briain’s guiding hand gently sustains the action throughout, building up to some final scenes of magnificent poignancy. Rotterdam runs until tomorrow night (Saturday, May 25).

John Phillpott