Review: RADA Summer 2018 Shows (Rotterdam, Journey's End, 3 Winters)

I recently attended all three of the RADA summer 2018 shows which ran from 29 May to 9 June. My best friend Rhiannon studies tech theatre at RADA so I love going to see the shows that she works on. After seeing the shows, I decided that I had to do at least small reviews for them as they were so incredibly good.

Rotterdam (Gielgud Theatre)
RATING: ★★★★
Rotterdam is about a couple navigating one half's transition to being a trans man. His girlfriend struggles with her own identity as a lesbian woman now that her partner is presenting as a man. The show, which played at the Trafalgar Studios in 2016, is an emotional, complicated piece of writing and this production certainly did it justice.

Philippine Velge and Mia Selway brought beautiful depth to Fiona/Adrian and Alice, but my favorite roles were the couple's friends, Lelani (played with wonderful flippancy by Jasmin Hinds) and Josh (played by Josh Fish who has a talent for imbuing lines with greater meaning than they appear to have on the surface).

My favorite part of the production may have been the beautiful projections designed by Ben Bull which helped shift between locations and create the mood for each scene. The show was rather emotionally exhausting, but raised important questions about love, gender, and just how far we're actually willing to go to accept someone.

Journey's End (GBS Theatre)
RATING: ★★★★★
As someone who studied history in undergrad, it's perhaps no surprise that I enjoy a World War One play more than just about anything. RADA's production of Journey's End by R. C. Sherriff was absolutely stunning and gut-wrenching. I appreciated the present day setting with modern fatigues despite having few changes to the script because it allowed several of the traditionally male roles to be played by women without question though the show did still feel rooted in WWI in many ways, perhaps partially because it's so iconically a play from that time.

Journey's End is a moving piece about a group of officers who are stationed at the front line and learn that there is a pending attack from the other side. The action of the play takes place entirely within the officers' quarters, brilliantly designed for this production by James Cotterill. The show was very well suited to the GBS Theatre as the smaller space made it feel as though the audience were there within the bunker too.

Doug Colling was wonderful as the head of the unit Stanhope, a young officer who is well-respected for his skill but has a serious drinking problem. He managed to keep the character likable, despite some of his questionable actions, by portraying an emotion always close to bubbling to the surface. Sabi Perez was lovely as Osborne, an older officer affectionately called 'Uncle', who has a nurturing manner and genuinely cares for her fellow officers. Joe Mott brought a certain charm to Trotter, the everyman, non-gentry officer, and Kwaku Mills brought me to tears several times as the eager new recruit Raleigh. Though it was a smaller role, Josh Zaré stood out as Hibbert, an officer suffering from PTSD. (There's a scene in which he breaks down that I will not soon forget.)

Typically when you see a WWI play or movie, the actors are actually older than the characters they're meant to be playing. There was something horrifyingly emotional about seeing young men and women in these roles, as Stanhope is meant to be 21 and Raleigh 18 years old. I'm not ashamed to say that by the end of the show, I was crying both from the terribly sad storyline itself and from reflecting on the horrible effects that WWI had on a generation of men.

3 Winters (Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre) 
RATING: ★★★

I admittedly know very little about Croatia so I was a little bit lost for parts of 3 Winters. The play tells the story of three generations of a Croatian family, jumping between 1945, 1990, and 2011. It lost out on stars not for the production itself but for the text, which I found occasionally confusing and a tad longer than it needed to be at over three hours long.

The production did an impressive job switching between the three timelines with one set, designed by Verity Quinn. I was most impressed by Lucie Sword who played Karolina both in the 1945 and 1990 timelines and did an incredible job at seeming two different ages. I also loved Cathryn Benson as Masa and Stella Kammel as Monika.

The play touches on so many things from relationships to the effects of war on a family. After seeing it, I'm so curious about the history of Croatia so it definitely accomplished something!

Photo Credit: Helen Murray 

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