BWW Review: ADAM, Theatre Royal Brighton

BWW Review: ADAM, Theatre Royal Brighton

BWW Review: ADAM, Theatre Royal BrightonThe journey of an asylum seeker is a harrowing one, especially if it's your family and old identity you are fleeing.

The National Theatre of Scotland have produced two works that tell the stories of a trans man and trans women, Adam and Eve respectively, as part of their 2017/2018 season. Adam premiered at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and now makes its English premiere at the Theatre Royal as part of the Brighton Festival.

Adam was born in Egypt and travels to Scotland seeking refuge and medical treatment to help him become the man he is convinced he should be.

Adam Kashmiry plays himself in the piece based on his life, along with Rehanna MacDonald. Both actors also play other characters within the work. Myriam Acharki features as Adam's mother via video recording.

Cora Bissett, who also directed Glasgow Girls (a similar work about asylum seekers in Scotland), heard Kashmiry share his story in a production organised by the Citizen's Theatre Community Company and the Scottish Refugee Council.

Following this, she met with Adam many times to gather his story and develop the work. Frances Poet's script balances Adam's anxiety with slight injections of humour, giving Adam a humanity that all in the audience, of all genders, can relate to.

Kashmiry really is the best person to tell this story. He portrays the anguish of feeling trapped in the wrong body and being misunderstood by those around him very well. MacDonald boldly plays Adam and other characters such as his female ex-colleague, one of the first he confides in while they sort stock in the back of the shop they work in.

Emily James's raked stage has a clever series of trapdoors and simple foldaway set pieces that allow the instantaneous appearance of a clothes rail, a bed, a toilet and more, with neither of the actors having to leave the stage. Simple costume changes (also by James) such as headscarves help distinguish when the two actors are playing Adam or other characters.

Jack Henry James's projections on the back wall of the stage are visually stunning and depict protest scenes during the Arab Spring (when the work is set), as well as CCTV-style footage of Adam's room in Glasgow with a simple counter keeping track of the days spent waiting for asylum approval from the Home Office.

One of the most moving parts of the work is the digital choir of trans community singers, known as the Adam World Choir, who participate in some of the musical elements of the play.

The footage of the individual singers from all over the world is paired with Jocelyn Pook's compositions. Pook weaves testimonies of trans individuals with music to create a powerful visual and audio message that Adam is not alone in this world.

Adam is a moving tale of conflict and self-discovery. This production delivers what I perceive to be a truthful insight into the turmoil the trans community face. It is recommended watching for those who wish to empathise or be educated on such issues.

Adam at Theatre Royal Brighton until 12 May

Photo credit: Brighton Festival

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