After first being staged at the 60-seat Theatre 503 in Battersea, Jon Brittain’s seminal work entitled Rotterdam has continued to gain enormous critical acclaim, much to its writer’s astonishment and he told us, “What’s happened to the show so far has taken me by surprise.”
The play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios and gained the playwright an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. It also featured last month in New York at the Brits Off Broadway festival and will open at the Arts Theatre in June for a strictly limited West End run.
With a central plot, which tackles the issues of coming out and of transitioning, as well as the general complexities of human relationships, Rotterdam has struck a chord with London theatregoers. Jon explains, “It’s kind of a romcom in a way.”
The honest and yet comedic portrayal finds Alice, who is about to proclaim her sexuality to her parents just as her girlfriend Fiona, decides to express her desire to live as a man called Adrian.
“It’s about how Alice’s sense of her sexual identity is thrown into question by Adrian asserting his sense of his gender identity and how their relationship changes.”
It’s a real departure for Jon, who is best known for collaborating with Matt Tedford on the hit satirical comedy Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho.
The Rotterdam project was something he never believed would come to fruition, but a story he was nevertheless passionate about telling.
“When I was 18/19 a couple of my friends transitioned.” Jon explains, “There were just no trans narratives in film, TV and theatre and I just thought they should have their experiences reflected on stage as well.”
Since writing the play, the climate in theatre has changed, but there are still few works, which depict the struggle trans people go through in a comedic manner and Jon said of Rotterdam, “It tells an important story and I think everyone can get something out of it.”
The celebrated comedy writer hasn’t left his political satire behind however and his new show Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows premiered at Underbelly Festival earlier this month and will continue to entertain audiences on the South Bank over the summer season.