After over one year in lockdown, nightclubs are sorely missed by millions, looking to dance and sweat their cares away on a Saturday night – but club toilets? Whilst they have ever been used for purely the obvious function, to many women their bathrooms are are so much more; a salon, a therapist’s couch and a sanctuary from men. Since she still had stubble on her ‘contoured jaw line’ it is a space Rosie, as a trans woman, has felt welcomed into, but as the hammering on the bathroom door intensifies and memories of bathrooms past flood back, her fears and anger rise and threaten to overflow.
It’s been at least five years since I first saw gender-neutral bathrooms signs springing up around London, but as trans-rights continue to be hard-won, the bathroom issue is not being flushed away any time soon. Travis Alabanza’s script identifies transphobia is not as binary as we might believe but comes from many sides (men, women and everywhere in-between).
From the stage, a functional and plumbed-in bathroom, party-goer Rosie shares intimate stories with us – as her bathroom friends, therapists, and confidants. It is not hard to imagine that many of these which document the difficulty she has had navigating even normal daily experiences such as using the bathroom in the workplace, school or going to a restaurant, sadly, must come from Travis’ own experience.
“Are we safe in here? Are we comfortable?”
Not opening the bathroom on the stage to anyone for the full hour creates an intimate and slightly claustrophobic atmosphere that is key to the tension Alabanza creates. Are we safe in here? Are we sitting comfortably on our china thrones? Or are we simply hiding from a bigger threat?
“the ability of Travis to laugh at bodily functions but underpin her scatological humour with a sense of blazing injustice is enviable”
We can keep everything under control for so long – just like holding in a pee (the ability of Travis to laugh at bodily functions but underpin her scatological humour with a sense of blazing injustice is enviable) but when we get desperate, there is no holding back the flood. Sooner or later we lose control, and as water cascades across the stage we are reminded that loss of control can be a catalyst, an instigator of change. Maybe – Travis suggest – the trans community should be fed-up of holding it in and waiting, legs crossed. Maybe it’s time to open the bathroom door and let it all out.
Oiginlly appearing at The Bush Theatre, London ‘Overflow’ is available to stream from ‘Bristol Old Vic at Home’ 6-8th May 2021.