Navigate back Back
Breadcrumb path arrow icon
Review: Overflow

Review: Overflow

Review: Overflow cover photo on Stagedoor
Remember Travis Alabanza’s brilliant Burgerz, rooted in the trans activist’s experience of having a burger thrown at them on Waterloo bridge?

Its beauty was the way it extrapolated from that transphobic incident to highlight not just the experience of being trans but also to dig deep about men and masculinity through the act of cooking a burger.

Set in a public bathroom, Alabanza’s latest, Overflow (Bush Theatre on-line), might be described as a companion piece to Burgerz, only in this instance the emphasis is on women and the changing attitudes of some cis women to their trans sisters. It puts the 'we' into having a wee.

Its title has many meanings-- including the idea of women’s toilets as a place of emotional safety and confession. As an ex-Catholic teenager I often thought there were similarities between the confessional box and the toilet cubicle where you told your darkest secrets to your best friend through the wall of the stall.

Reece Lyons in Overflow. Photos by Sharron Wallace.

Burgerz was a piece that had audience involvement and liveness stamped through it like a stick of rock. Overflow had its run cut short at the Bush in December because of Covid-19 regulations, but rises like a phoenix from the ashes in filmed form. Do you miss not being part of an audience? Hell, yes. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise. I reckon that on stage this monologue probably thrived on the presence and complicity of an audience.

But Debbie Hannan’s production, performed with a fresh-as-a-daisy naturalness by Reece Lyons, has an intimate confessional quality, even as it takes a stiletto, or rather chunky boot, to transphobia. How did a place that used to be a sanctuary become a battleground? When did solidarity change to silence?

Lyons plays Rosie, a trans woman stuck inside a cubicle at a club while outside others thump threateningly on the door. She reflects on toilets she has known, from the school bogs to the nightclub Ladies, which, before YouTube, was where you went for a make-up tutorial or find refuge from the insistent attentions of the men on the dance floor. It was and can still be a place where women bond. But what happens to friendship when transphobia enters the bathroom? Or hammers insistently on the door outside?

Designer Max Johns' provides a circular space that gradually fills with water, leaving Rosie with that drowning feeling, Alabanza provides plenty of jokes to keep the whole thing flowing nicely, and the show neatly reminds something crucial: that every woman loses out, and trans women are put in danger, when we allow a haven became a policed space.

You can stream Overflow until Sat 23 Jan. Tickets here.

Share this article on:

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon
Written by

Lyn Gardner

New tips and reviews every week. If you're looking for innovative theatre, you've come to the right place.
Logo for influencer Lyn Gardner on Stagedoor

Mentioned in Article Toggle mentioned in article