Rotterdam announces UK tour

Rotterdam - 59E59 Theater - 2017 - Anna Martine Freeman and Alice McCarthy - photo by Hunter Canning
Rotterdam (West End)
Photo credit: Hunter Canning

Last seen in the UK back in June 2017, when it had a limited run at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End, Jon Brittain’s play Rotterdam is now set to embark on a nationwide tour; this announcement from Hartshorn-Hook Productions coincides with this year’s Transgender Awareness Week. The play has previously enjoyed two other London engagements, as well as a transfer to New York’s 59E59 Theaters and Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles. Rotterdam also won the prize for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre at the 2017 Olivier Awards, following its stint at Trafalgar Studios 2.

“Funny, moving and beautiful story”

The play centres around Alice and Fiona/Adrian. The couple have been living in Rotterdam for a few years, essentially hiding because Alice can’t bring herself to tell her parents she’s gay – she’s worried that this could be the last contact they ever have. However, New Year’s Eve comes and she has plucked up the courage to email her mum & dad, but this is when Fiona drops the bombshell that she intends to start living as a man (called Adrian), having always identified as male. This causes Alice to wonder if she is in fact straight (something that had never crossed her mind before), or if this will mean the end of their relationship.

Rotterdam - 59E59 Theater - 2017 - Ed Eales-White and Anna Martine-Freeman - photo by Hunter Canning
Rotterdam (West End)
Photo credit: Hunter Canning

In the late 2000s several of Brittain’s friends transitioned, which is what inspired him to write the play – as well as what he felt was a glaring omission of transgender issues in popular culture. He conducted thorough research when writing the play, and consulted with various organisations (including Trans Media Watch, who endorsed the play, and Gendered Intelligence – the company dedicated their Olivier to them), as well as discussing it with trans people & their partners, and conducting a reading for members of trans communities.

Just as was stated in the West End programme notes last year, which I reiterated in my review, this is still a very important time for these issues to be discussed. Rotterdam is a very entertaining play, as well as having an emotional depth to it – its engaging nature and humanity is just what’s needed to try and help more people understand the complexities of this issue.

Rotterdam will visit the following venues:

  • Rose Theatre, Kingston
  • Theatre Royal Brighton
  • York Theatre Royal
  • Leicester Haymarket Theatre
  • Glassbox Theatre, Harlow
  • Northcott Theatre, Exeter
  • Birmingham Rep
  • Malvern Theatre
  • Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
  • Theatr Clwyd, Mold
  • Nuffield Southampton Theatres
  • Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

“We are delighted to be taking Rotterdam on its first UK tour,” says director Donnacadh O’Briain. “It’s a privilege to be able to share this funny, moving and beautiful story with audiences around the whole country.”


Rotterdam will be on tour from 4 April – 12 June 2019, beginning at Rose Theatre Kingston. Tickets are available online or from individual box offices.

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