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‘Overflow’ Review: The Bathroom Battleground

‘Overflow’ Review: The Bathroom Battleground
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‘Overflow’ Review: The Bathroom Battleground

‘Overflow’ Evaluate: The Toilet Battleground

“Earlier than the age of YouTube tutorials, there was simply the membership bogs,” Rosie says. It’s in certainly one of them, alone, that she is waxing poetic about these good previous days. Dressed to impress in a black velvet minidress, Rosie is reminiscing concerning the occasions when she might take a second for absolutely anything — whether or not recommendations on make-up or self-defense, or an prompt remedy session — within the ladies’s room. It was a secure place to set the evening on pause and take a breather from dancing, flirting and consuming. Maybe she might additionally regain management for a bit bit.

The brand new Travis Alabanza play “Overflow,” which is now streaming from the Bush Theater in London, is about this quest for company and security, right here inextricably intertwined with identification. (Debbie Hannan’s manufacturing was filmed throughout a bodily run in December that was curtailed when London once more heightened restrictions.)

Rosie (the transgender actor Reece Lyons) is talking up to now tense as a result of issues have modified for many who, like her, went from utilizing the boys’s room to the ladies’s room. Again when she nonetheless had a stubble and had not but mastered making use of basis, a lady as soon as welcomed her to a haven devoid of urinals.

However the world has hardened, Rosie notes, and began to encroach into what was a self-contained bubble. Ladies’s bogs went from a spot of egalitarian acceptance to a battleground within the battle for transgender acceptance and equality.

“Earlier than, I’d go to the ladies’s lavatory to flee the potential fists within the males’s,” Rosie says. “However now, the selection feels between a fist or a hug that sinks its claws in.” (Does a hug have claws? Higher not pay too shut consideration to the play’s plentiful metaphors and similes.)

Alabanza idealizes the previous pecking order in ladies’s rooms, which weren’t at all times as pleasant to these outdoors female and racial norms because the playwright makes it sound. However by no means thoughts, menace is on the door now — Rosie’s monologue is interrupted by an intrusive thud. It’s merely a startling annoyance at first, however the bangs don’t cease. They’re closing in on the more and more agitated Rosie.

Lyons is at all times in movement on the round staging space, the place a purple sink and matching rest room stand out towards white tiles (Max Johns’s set wants just some black gentle to completely evoke a disco lair). To no avail: There isn’t a getting out because the knocks develop into extra insistent, extra threatening.

But the play doesn’t get a lot dramatic traction, whilst Alabanza ups the quasi-thriller ante. Rosie remembers the mysterious lavatory floodings that after disrupted her main faculty. She wonders whether or not she will be able to actually belief her childhood pal Charlotte, unassuaged by Charlotte’s declare to be the “final ally.” Possibly her transgender mate Zee was onto one thing when she suggested Rosie to drop those that have let her down: “They’ll’t disappoint us in the event that they aren’t round us, child.” (When portraying these characters, Lyons doesn’t differentiate all of them that effectively, so it may be complicated.)

The waters are rising, the traces are drawn: Are you with Rosie or towards her? “Overflow” ends with a cathartic launch that should have been fairly spectacular reside, when Francis Botu’s sound design got here in at full power. Possibly the ladies’s room has served its function in spite of everything: Rosie is able to begin with a clear slate.


By means of Saturday; bushtheatre.co.uk.

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