Rotterdam, A Queer Love Story About All Of Us

by Dale Reynolds

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 22, 2017

Miranda Wynne, left, and Ashley Romans
Miranda Wynne, left, and Ashley Romans  

Jon Brittain's latest drama, "Rotterdam," set in the Dutch seaport, is very topical (it debuted in London this year), dealing as it does with the very essence of self-awareness and sexual dynamics, thoroughly intriguing in its script and in this production.

Alice (Miranda Wynne) and Fiona (Ashley Romans) are a couple, seemingly well-matched in temperament, age, and chemistry. But there's a snag in this relationship: Fiona is now revealing that "she" is really a "he" and has always known it. So how does this explosive information affect their bond? Not easily, as it turns out.

The two met when Fiona, now to be addressed as Adrian, was introduced by her brother, Josh (Ryan Brophy) to Alice. All three are English; Fiona and Josh from the northern parts, Alice from the south. Fiona had quickly turned Alice on enough that she left Josh for Fee. Okay. Now, Fiona/Adrian, still very close to her brother, who grudgingly has accepted Alice leaving him seven years before, must find a way to encourage Alice to turn "straight," keeping them a couple. But to do that, Alice must accept Adrian as a man; not as the woman with whom she fell in love.

Alice, in her confusion, allows a younger woman she works with, the young Dutch Lilani (Audrey Cain), long of limb and hair, to fully seduce her on New Year's Eve, a major Dutch holiday. But what is Adrian to do with his new-found masculinity? He's still in love with Alice, but it isn't working out as he has hoped. Josh is fully supportive of his (now) brother, doesn't want to hurt Alice further, but is powerless in this situation.

See? A strongly-plotted domestic drama, extremely well-directed by Michael A. Shepperd, who cleverly has his superb cast choreographically moving the setting from apartment to nightclub to outdoors, using only the furniture on Jeff McLaughlin's psychedelic and colorful set.

It's so very 2017, and refreshing as a queer-bait drama. Brittain has his finger on this new hiccup in LGBTQ pairing, and his play is hard-hitting, explorative of this latest conundrum in the history of love in our world.

All four actors have authentic British accents (Tuffet Schmelzle, dialect coach) and make strong chemistry together. The protean work of Romans, especially, stands out, going from semi-masculine Fiona to totally masculine Adrian without resorting to stereotyping. Her quiet joy when Lilani assumes he is, indeed, a man, is amusing and telling on Alice's pained reaction. Brophy conveys Josh's supportive confusions, while Wynne and Cain play out a possible romance in difficult circumstances.

It's truly an extraordinary and very much welcomed addition to Lesbian/Trans/Straight sexuality and soulfulness, exactly what we in the real world need to know about ourselves and those others out there. Explore this for yourselves and see if you agree.

"Rotterdam" plays through December 11 at the Skylight Theatre, 1816 Ĺ N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, 90037. For tickets and information, call 213-761-7061 or visit