‘A remarkable, true story well-told’: ADAM – Battersea Arts Centre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Battersea Arts Centre, London – until 29 September 2018

Adam Kashmiry is a man that was born in Egypt in a woman’s body. From a young age, he knew his soul didn’t align with the gender he was assigned at birth, but it wasn’t until he discovered the internet as a teenager that he found a word for this.

But due to his country’s political and cultural leanings, he couldn’t come out. He couldn’t even be a lesbian in a woman’s body without risking his life. So he spent his savings on a plane ticket to Glasgow in the hope of starting a new life as the man he knows he is.

This is a remarkable, true story well-told by National Theatre of Scotland documenting one man’s journey of self-discovery and navigating Britain’s ridiculous immigration system. It’s a simple narrative made more complex and engaging by two performers playing Adam. One is Kashmiry playing himself, the other is a woman, Rehanna MacDonald. MacDonald also plays several other characters, including Adam’s mum, his co-worker and a GP. The pair emphasises the masculine and feminine present in us all, and also Adam’s former body with which he battled. It’s a poignant choice by director Cora Bassett.

The design team has created a cracking visual landscape packed with surprises. The floor looks like paving slabs, but some of these fold open to reveal bedrooms, a shop floor, toilets and offices. Video projections enhance mood, and the final sequence of music and images by the Adam World Choir reminds us that there are people like Adam everywhere, and each has their own, impactful story of a life as a trans person.

Kashmiry’s tale is uniquely of its time – trans politics, the Arab Spring and technological references firmly place it in very recent history, but there are elements of timelessness. Mythological epic journeys, love stories and coming of age provide wider context and remind us that whilst we’re all finding our way through life as our ancestors did, it’s easy for those of us that are more vulnerable to slip through the cracks.

Laura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.