Overspill opens on a typical Friday night for three twenty year old men from Bromley. Potts, Finch and Baron or, as they refer to themselves, “We, the lads” are enjoying their usual Big Mac meal at Maccie D’s before they start a night on the town. Theres no time to waste: “Bromley is waiting”.
Set in the grey concreted wonder of a typical British town centre, with its collection of chain pubs and shops, the lads are excited about the night to come as they plan the drinks, and clubs theyll take in on their way to “twenty pints and two sicks”. They could be any group of friends, in any town centre across the country. “Same time. Same place. Every Friday night.”
Wearing their Friday night uniform Danny Worters as Potts, Paul Stocker as Finch and Syrus Lowe as Baron immediately charm the audience with their swagger, quick wit and designer sportswear. The play was first staged as part of Bromley’s Metamorphosis 08 writing scheme and it’s easy to see why it appealed to the judges. Using assonance and alliteration, Ali Taylors writing bounces the story along quickly, with great exuberance, helped by fantastic movement direction by Struan Leslie.
Five minutes in the mood changes as a bomb goes off in McDonalds and the grey concrete of Bromley becomes a victim of a terrorist attack. So begins a story of nameless violence, fear of the unknown, suspicion and Huw Edwards.
As more bombs are detonated, the perpetrator cannot be found and our heroes, in the wrong place at the wrong time, find the finger of suspicion pointed squarely at them. Only the three lads, it seems, have noticed the nameless, faceless terrorist, dressed in black, who appears shortly before every explosion. His presence throughout the rest of the play serves to remind us of constant need to direct our fear and anger towards whatever faceless evil the media has convinced is in our midst, whether thats a coloured man with a backpack, hoodied ASBO or knife wielding youth.
The boys attempt to track down the real perpetrator after they have to flee a braying town centre mob, but after a few beers their mission takes a more violent turn with the appearance of the ubiquitous weapon of our times, a flick knife.
Despite the violent plot, the play is uplifting and fun and feels modern and relevant. Taylors poetry never lapses into the clich that the set up lends itself to and his skill leaves us wincing as he manages to create shocking fight scenes without use of actual bodily contact or weapons.
A simple grey set, clever lighting and use of music all combine under Tim Rosemans slick direction to create something as thought provoking as it is enjoyable. There are word perfect performances from Worters, Stocker and Lowe, well cast in the roles as nave young men who take a wrong turn.
Potts, Finch and Baron end the play on very different seats to where they begin and like them, the audience is left wondering how fear of ‘The Nameless’ terror became part of the fabric of our town centres. Taylor challenges our perceptions of terrorism, race and anti-social behaviour making Overspill relevant to all of our lives; whether were regulars of a Walkabout pub on a Friday night or not.