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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Overflow, at Fairfax Studio, Art Centre Melbourne - 80 minutes

Updated: Feb 3

Survival is at stake when stunning brunette Rosie (Janet Anderson) finds herself cornered in a bathroom.

 

She is a transwoman who has had to endure a great deal and continues to do so.

 

Above all, she has learnt to be true to herself.

 

Bathrooms are a constant thread running through Overflow. That dates back to when Rosie first hid in one at the age of nine or 10.

Photos by Robert Catto


Rosie speaks about her friendship with former schoolmate Charlotte and an ongoing toilet flooding incident at their Catholic state primary school.

 

And then there is another mate, Zee.

 

Rosie and Zee met in a club toilet and began their transition at the same time.

 

Mind you, Zee has no time for Charlotte.

Anderson begins her remarkably polished and nuanced monologue as Rosie speaking eloquently about the empowering impact of the pre-emptive wee.

 

That is letting things flow before it is really necessary, which brings with it an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

 

Rosie’s conviction is all but spiritual.

 

But any sense of wellbeing is interrupted – as it is constantly throughout the performance – by a loud knocking sound.

 

It represents a couple of men thumping on the door of the bathroom, threatening Rosie’s wellbeing.

 

Unfortunately, that experience is nothing new for her.

As the play unfolds, Rosie does everything from giving us further insights into her life to providing lipstick tips and, before this is over, the bathroom is flooded.

 

Anderson is a towering figure, both literally and figuratively.

 

She enters dressed in a crop top and mini skirt, huge rubber platform boots, graphic tights and puffer jacket. With her is a handbag.

 

She is so compelling, you simply can’t take your eyes of her.

 

As her at various times hilarious, troubling and heartfelt tale unfolds, she alternately vapes and smokes cigarettes.

As I said at the outset, Overflow is about survival – surviving the haters and misfits … the would-be destructors of self.

 

Anderson’s timing is impeccable. She doesn’t miss a beat.

 

The resonance in the work goes back to the writing. Travis Alabanza has given us their warts and all truth.

 

Direction from Dino Dimitriadis is exemplary.

 

They are also responsible for the utilitarian set.

 

That consists of two cubicles without doors, separated by a see-through wall, a large wash trough with working taps and a paper towel dispenser.

Sound – loud effects and loud music – is a significant player in Overflow.

 

Danni Esposito is the sound designer and composer who leaves a lasting impression.

 

Overflow, too, is not easily forgotten as Rosie prepares to confront her aggressors with a clear conscience.

 

It is playing at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, as part of Midsumma, until 4th February.

 

It then moves to Geelong Arts Centre between 8th and 10th February, 2024.

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