Review: The little but fierce Pigs and Dogs, Royal Court
Review: The Plough and the Stars, National Theatre and why I'm glad I stayed for the second half

Review: Five star fringe theatre - Rotterdam, Trafalgar Studios

Rotterdam - Alice McCarthy and Anna Martine, Courtesy of Piers Foley Photography
Rotterdam - Alice McCarthy and Anna Martine, Courtesy of Piers Foley Photography

Alice (Alice McCarthy) and Fiona (Anna Martine) are expats living and working in Rotterdam.

They've been a couple for seven years having met in the city and Alice is still plucking up the courage to come out to her parents. Fiona is plucking up the courage to tell Alice that she wants to live as a man.

"I'm not trying to become a man. I think, I know, I already am one [...] In my dreams, I'm a man, every time."

You can draw parallels with The Danish Girl and Rotterdam certainly packs the same emotional punch but it is also lively and contemporary and digs much deeper than the film which attracted Oscar-nods. There aren't mentions of strap-ons in the Danish Girl, for a start.

And Rotterdam is also very funny.

The set is a simple back drop, decorated with a view of Rotterdam and punctured with doors and cupboards which work as entrances and exits. A couple of low, cube-shaped tables and a chair are moved and manipulated for different settings - often with a sense of the attitude from the previous scene.

Over the course of two hours and twenty minutes (with an interval) Jon Brittain takes us on a moving, emotional journey as Alice and Fiona or Adrian as he wants to be known, navigate their relationship through uncharted waters but can they stay afloat?

At the same time, both are struggling with their own identities, learning who they are and who they love - "How can we ever truly know who we are attracted to".

Fiona/Adrian's brother Josh (Ed Eales-White) is on hand to support, using helpful terms such as "hasbian" and then there is the young, excited Lelanie (Jessica Clark) who has the hots for Alice and might just offer some respite from the arguments at home.

Rotterdam manages to be both funny, warm and deeply moving. It's four characters are all carefully painted and performed and all of them are people you want to spend time with, flaws and all. There is never a dull moment - it is fast-paced without skirting over the many issues the scenario raises.

It feels fresh, contemporary and what fringe theatre should be right now. I'm giving it five stars and that's not at all to do with having a girl crush on Anna Martine.

Go and see it at the Trafalgar Studios 2 where it is playing until August 27.