Adam, Battersea Arts Centre

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By Laura Kressly

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 coworker and a GP. The pair emphasise 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 have 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. 

Adam runs through 29 September.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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