Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – until 27 August 2017
Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
There is no shortage of unfettered emotion in the National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam at the Traverse.
The play has been bracketed with the National Theatre’s production of Eve, and while there are obvious similarities between the two pieces, there are also huge differences. Adam tells the story of Adam Kashmiry, an Egyptian trans man who now lives in Glasgow, and whose very life was at risk in his homeland.
Theatrically, Adam is a world away from Eve, with Frances Poet’s adaptation given the full-on multimedia treatment in Traverse One by director Cora Bissett.
Kashmiry performs his own story, with Neshla Caplan also playing Adam and both performers taking on other roles as necessary. For an inexperienced performer Kashmiry has a fierce stage presence, while Caplan is exemplary.
There is no real issue with two performers taking on the same role – sometimes consecutively, sometimes concurrently. Neither is there the problem that can surface with dramatised true stories of the narrative falling between two stools.
Poet’s script can be funny, touching and brutally direct, but it can also meander. It is strongest when presenting raw experience; less so when it teases out an idea, such as the overplayed metaphor of the ‘contronym’ – a word, such as ‘sanction’ that can have two opposite meanings.
Similarly, Bissett’s direction has so much energy that at times the focus slips. The technical ambition of the production is vast, but the projections and Emily James’s set are overdone. When it works – like the digital choir of transgender and non-binary people – it works beautifully; it can work much less well, such as in the constant opening of trapdoors in the set.
There can be no denying the necessity of this story, or the power of this story. It would be a hard heart indeed that was not moved. As an achieved theatrical production, it is not quite so secure.
Running time 1 hour 20 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED (Venue 15)
Saturday 5 – Sunday 27 August 2017
Daily (not Mondays)
Times vary, see website for details
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/1210/adam.aspx
Traverse website: https://www.traverse.co.uk
National Theatre of Scotland website: https://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com
Twitter: @traversetheatre , @ntsonline
Facebook: @TraverseTheatre, NationalTheatreScotland
The production tours to Glasgow Citizens: September 13 – 17
Tickets and details: http://www.citz.co.uk/whatson/info/double_bill_adam_eve/