Sydney Festival: Overflow

Natasha Ciesielski
26th Jan 2024

Providing a rare look into the life of a young transgender woman, Overflow was written by internationally acclaimed writer and one of the UK's most prominent trans voices, Travis Alabanza.

Alabanza’s script is funny, frank and heartbreaking. The one-woman play is a 70-minute monologue of Rosie, set in a London club bathroom.  

Playing the role of Rosie is proud transgender actress Janet Anderson. A star on the rise, Anderson doesn’t hold back. She’s raw, open, friendly and fierce.

The play opens with Rosie sitting on a toilet chatting about the importance of a pre-emptive piss. It’s a light heart start to the show with the audience laughing along to witty toilet humour. A loud bang breaks her tale and from the concerned look on Rosies’ face it’s apparent there’s more to the noise than someone urgently needing to use the toilet.

Through bathroom scenes Overflow explores trans safety, along with the frustration and threat a trans woman feels in being blocked from using a women’s bathroom.

To distract herself from whatever is waiting outside, Rosie shares memories of bathroom encounters, including drunken conversations, how new friendships were made as bathrooms turned into beauty salons and reflects on her childhood, revealing moments of vulnerability and joy. In the solo role, Anderson is brilliant as she imitates the different key characters in her life.

The success of a play consists of many elements and this show wins on all fronts. Its Australian debut at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, is the country’s first-ever theatre production made by an all-trans and gender-non-conforming cast and creative team.

Director Dino Dimitriadis is also behind the clever set design of the black and silver bathroom, slowly overflowing with water. Lighting Designer, Benjamin Brockman helps place the play timeline, switching from pulsing pink for the club scenes to stark white for Rosie’s current reality. Danni Esposito, Sound Designer and Composer, creates the club music and sudden sound effects but also uses silence to slow the pace of this energetic show.

The plight of a transgender trying to find their way in a society that doesn’t understand them, is not something everyone can understand but Overflow viewers will connect and feel for Rosie thanks to a brilliant performance, an intelligent script and a strong production team.

Five stars.

Overflow, is on at the Eternity Playhouse as part of Sydney Festival’s 2024 program is playing now at Darlinghurst Theatre till 27th January. It will then head to Geelong and Melbourne.

Tickets start from $49 (plus booking fee).