PC: Francis Gacad
Written by Patrick Chavis
It was 2018, I wanted to go to Japan, and my wife wanted to go to the Netherlands. We went to the Netherlands. We stayed in Amsterdam but took the train to Rotterdam. It was a quick train ride, about an hour, maybe shorter. We only stayed for the day, but I remember it was a beautifully designed city and a lot more open and spread out than Amsterdam. It was very easy to get around, very walkable, and incredibly modern — a word I would also use to describe the latest play, named after the aforementioned city, at the Wayward Artist in Santa Ana. Rotterdam is a timely story full of metaphors, broken hearts, narrative standbys, a set as active as its story, and the cast brilliantly brings this new modern classic to life.
Rotterdam is about Alice, played by Skylar Alexis, and Fiona/Adrian, played by Rene Leech. These two lesbians have been in a relationship for seven years. Both are English, but they live together in Rotterdam, Netherlands. When Fiona announces she’s a man and has always been a man., their relationship is tested in this 2-hour and 15-minute dramatic piece.
This was a very well-written and conceived play. Playwright Jon Brittain does a good job of dropping us right into the drama. The story is multilayered. This a real situation people deal with all the time. Plus, on a deeper level, the play is asking the age-old question: what does love look like? My biggest issue with this play was the lack of lighter, happier moments between the couple that could have possibly made the sadder, tenser parts more effective. That said, it’s quite a long play, and adding more could have been overkill.
Much of the set by Scenic Designer Bryce Moon and Video Designer Anna Miles are these multiple video screens moving and changing images but timed to reflect the story and setting. It grabs your eye, but what sold me on it was how the screens were actively used in the show. It was not a typical backdrop but a real interactive effect on the stage.
The costume choices in this were varied throughout and appropriate. Alice’s dress in this was as loud as it wanted to be and more, so perfect.
The smooth and almost effortless transitions from scene to scene show a well-executed and thought-through production from director Craig Tyrl.
It was a tour de force performance from this ensemble.
Skylar Alexis leads this cast with a performance that will keep you invested the entire night.
Physically speaking, without adding too many spoilers, Rene Leech, in collaboration with Francis C. Edemobi (Josh), may have delivered some of the best physical conformations I’ve seen on stage in an art form that can often over-dramatize those elements.
The scenes between Francis C. Edemobi and Rene Leech were wonderful and powerful. They created the surprise relationship you didn’t know you wanted, and it was also the best one in the show.
Molly Renze’s Lelani nicely balanced out the serious and anxious Alice with her bubbly, devil-may-care personality.
Story8.8Acting9.4Set & Design8.8Costumes8.7Entertainment9.1
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Exceptional Show! OCR Recommended! Nov 10 – 19,2023.
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