Skip to main content

'Rotterdam' at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Miranda Wynne and Audrey Cain | Craig Schwartz.

Rotterdam, written by Jon Brittain and directed by Michael A. Shepperd, takes place in–you guessed it–Rotterdam, a port city in the Netherlands, on New Year's Eve. Nothing stays in Rotterdam for long. It's a port city, after all. A sort of dockyard purgatory where everything and everyone is coming and going. Josh (Ryan Brophy), Lelani (Audrey Cain), Fiona (Ashey Romans), and Alice (Miranda Wynne) have all begun to sprout accidental roots and are starting to feel unsettled.

The play begins with Alice penning an email to her parents to let them know that she's a lesbian and very much in love with Fiona. Inspired by her girlfriend's honesty, Fiona reveals that she's always identified as a man and would like to start outwardly living as one. He begins to go by Adrian. What follows is an incredibly honest dialogue about identity, gender politics, and love.

Along the way, we learn how our four characters ended up in the port city of Rotterdam. Alice took a job there hoping it would lead to a breakup between her and her then-boyfriend, Josh. Brophy's Josh is good-hearted; a civil rights enthusiast's wet dream. We learn that Josh is Adrian's brother, and that Adrian and Alice got together when Adrian decided to pay his brother a visit. Adrian and Alice fell in love, Miranda began to come to terms with her sexual identity, and Josh just... stayed.

Wynne plays up Alice's neurosis in the most charming way possible, making it easy to understand why she is so deeply loved. Because her performance is so heartfelt, it was exhilarating to watch her find her voice and identity.

Romans's portrayal of Fiona/Adrian is honest and exposing. This show would not work without an unapologetic Fiona/Adrian at its center. It was blindingly clear that Roman trusted her castmates, the script, and, unflinchingly, herself, and the integrity of the story was better for it.

Lelani, our fourth character, is a 21-year-old party girl who recently graduated and landed a gig in Rotterdam thanks to one of her father’s friends (who’s, like, “in love with [her] or something”). She lives with him, and his wife and kids, while working for his company, where Alice also works. It takes some time to adjust to Cain's character, perhaps because she is so different from the other three characters on stage. When we are first introduced to Lelani, her movement and speech come off a bit unnatural. But by the end of the first act, her role in relation to everything and everyone else feels like a match made in heaven. Lelani brings the chaos, and Cain knows how to stir things up as only a 21-year-old free spirit can while maintaining her character's likeability.

Lelani teaches the tightly-wound Alice how to loosen up by way of setting off fireworks, dancing in clubs, and snacking on local meatballs. The devil on her shoulder, she speaks directly to Alice's id, a part of herself Alice has worked hard to shove way down. She also confirms for Alice that she is definitely, definitely a lesbian.

The set and lighting are beautiful, thanks to Jeff McLaughlin. The sound (Christopher Moscatiello) is both upbeat and (appropriately) jarring. The combination of the technical elements had me feeling as if I was watching the events unfolding before me from the lounge of a futuristic Dutch club.

Skylight Theatre Company's Rotterdam is playing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre as a part of the third annual Block Party series. The show runs through April 7.



Popular posts from this blog

'Deadly' by Sacred Fools

Sacred Fools Theater Company's world premiere of Deadly, a new musical by playwright/lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart and directed by Jaime Robledo, is about the victims of notorious serial killer H. H. Holmes. 

In the author's note printed in the program, Stewart writes about discovering H. H. Holmes' story (via "binge-watching the History Channel"). Though the gruesome details of his killings were enthusiastically offered up, "the victims and their stories vanish[ed] into the ether." 

So Stewart set out to create a show that focused on the stories of the women gone too soon at the hands of Holmes. And she did just that. 

Deadly is so clearly written by a woman. The entire production is littered with empathy–it can be found in the smallest of nooks and crannies. The script does not just tell the story of a serial killer and why he did what he did and how he did what he did, it tells the story of some of the first cries of feminism, sisterhood, motherhood. 

'Pockets' at Hollywood Fringe

Pockets is a very silly story about the importance of family, the double standard female rulers face, and the root of criminal activity in any given society.

The world of Pockets takes place in the kingdom of Crumpeton, a fictional kingdom that celebrates, above all else, crumpets. Ruling while her husband is away is the Duchess (Kat Primeau), mother to the young Bellamina (Molly Dworsky). Bellamina feels neglected by her mother ever since she took over for her father and turns to a life of crime in protest. She becomes Pockets, the new, hot, young pickpocket on the streets of Crumpeton. Her one goal? Make life a little harder for her neglectful mother, the Duchess.

Along the way, Bellamina realizes a special gift she possesses (in addition to her natural knack for pickpocketing): the ability to get people to listen to one another. Single-handedly she unites groups of criminals to work for a common goal, and, later, helps her mother to become a better ruler and parent.

With a cast of …

'Linda Vista' at the Mark Taper Forum

‘Linda vista’ is Spanish for ‘pretty view.’

Though San Diego might seem like an idealized setting, the contents of this story are far from pretty.
Prior to entering the theatre I heard two young people, somewhere between the ages of 23 and 25, talking about the show. “It’s about a guy who has a huge midlife crisis.”

Linda Vista (at the Mark Taper Forum until Feb. 17), written by Tracy Letts and directed by Dexter Bullard, follows antihero Wheeler (played by Ian Barford) as he attempts to–not rebuild his life, but construct a completely different version brick by brick in the midst of his divorce. Certain audience members would tell you Wheeler’s a pessimist, others: a realist. Wherever you land, it was immediately pretty easy for us to see why he’s hard to love.

The preshow involves Wheeler and his friend Paul (Tim Hopper) moving Wheeler out of his wife’s garage and into his new two bedroom apartment in Linda Vista. Wheeler has a bad hip, a constant reminder of his age and perhaps his e…