- Bush Theatre
- 7th September–9th October
- Student tickets from £15
Overflow is a monologue written by the award-winning playwright Travis Alabanza, starring the lovely Reece Lyons as Rose. This play is firmly a barbed commentary on the experience of trans people in the world today and, whilst I would certainly not declare the play an incisive masterpiece, the narrative is thoughtful enough and explores interesting, nuanced topics that no-doubt relate to all audiences regardless of their gender identity. The drama unfolds as Rose, trapped in a bathroom and determined to save herself, reflects on memories of primary school bathrooms; club toilets; and pre-emptive pissing.
When you enter the Bush Theatre you will be greeted by a perplexing set design, one that seems jointly inspired by a typical club toilet and a bathroom from the sets of Downton Abbey. A drop of water constantly drips from the spaghetti junction of pipes hanging above the stage. It is this set design that brings the production to life. Drawing inspiration from the grunge aesthetic, the set is extremely dynamic. Lyons plays, very literally, with water throughout; and the dripping, running, and cascading torrents fill the room with an echoey sound, and the platform with a rising line of water. The soundscape complements the tension brought by the unseen characters banging on the bathroom door; and creates smoky reflected patterns on the walls.
Lyons herself is a delight; dressed to the nines in a very form-fitting leather boilersuit, she embodies pure positive punk energy and I love it! Ok, there were some fleeting awkward moments with the set and a few fluffed lines; but there was a total ownership of the role and an authentic vibe that would be hard to rival. The play is accessible to everyone, but often trite. More than a couple scenes were exercises in grandstanding more than thoughtful portrayal, and they almost began to ironically reflect the previously condemned dissonance between the words and actions of so-called queer allies. Not to mention, by the end of the performance the metaphor of water and flooding was so overworked, the whole thing had begun to seem... fake deep.
All this being said, I had an amazing time, and I would go again. I appreciate shows that pack a punch in a short space of time; and by this measure, Overflow is one of the best things I’ve seen this year. If you’re looking to start the term off by seeing some original theatre, then the Bush Theatre is the place to be.