Overflow at The Bush Theatre: Review by Stephen Vowles

One of the most wonderful things about the producers and programmers at The Bush Theatre is that they excel in finding new writing talent, innovative work and getting it on stage – and with Travis Alabanza’s Overflow this is absolutely the case. Performed by Reece Lyons as Rosie and directed by Debbie Hannan, the pace of this monologue is a fabulous tour de force, bordering on a frenzy of pure delight with Lyons having such a firm grip on the material. 

This is a breathtaking portrayal of a complex character which at times is gut-wrenching to watch in its honesty of the storytelling of a trans human being. Lyons’ character is spinning out of control, her life is going round in circles like a hamster on a caged wheel. This is where Lyons as an actress is simply superb putting an elegant, provocative spin on her part – even when she is talking about pre-emptive pissing, being in control of your life, as you must be in control of doing number ones.   

Alabanza also shines a light on social media and the power of it. Lyons’ energy level never stops and when there is a section on the narrative that looks at the fervour and fanatical extremism of religious belief this is presented with a tongue in cheek grace that is captivating. This is a very important and responsible look at gender and the way you choose to live your life touching on all aspects of that from fear to desire, and to just being a true friend to someone. 

And I quote: Cornered into a flooding toilet cubicle and determined not to be rescued again, Rosie distracts herself with memories of bathroom encounters, drunken heart-to-hearts by dirty sinks, friendships forged in front of crowded mirrors, and hiding from trouble. But with her panic rising and no help on its way, can she keep her head above water? The scene is set… 

When I left the play and pondered on what I had just seen it was clear that this gripping, thought-provoking piece was clearly written to be informative about being trans, but also that demonstrated a celebration of human emotion, sexy, funny and warm. This is marvellous contemporary theatre  with the emphasis on giving the audience an uplifting almost galvanising  reaction to issues that some may find awkward to deal with. 

Lyons as a performer is stunning to watch and with an extraordinary set and lighting by Max Johns and Jess Bernberg respectively, thus making for a  thrilling, pulse racing and actually hilarious night at the Bush Theatre. A must see  and unique. A groundbreaking production. There is a wonderful line in the play “Silence can be the loudest noise” – truer words have never been written and subsequently spoken. 

Photos: Helen Murray


Overflow at The Holloway Theatre at The Bush Theatre until Saturday 9th October at 7 Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, London W12 8LU. Box office: 020 8743 5050 

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