Within a small, almost claustrophobic, set-cum-installation of a sports locker-room, twelve members of the audience are seated in the round on three small benches. We are told that we are facing a big challenge….
We are introduced to our swimming coach and told why we are here: for a water-polo game, which in just minutes we will be competing in! The coach, played by the brilliantly funny Iván González, is loud and slightly unnerving. At this point the audience is not, and I mean not, relaxed.
So, you are told to put on your swimming caps (which include built-in headphones, allowing you to receive instructions from an unseen female performer – either individually or as a group) and to listen. It was almost like having an audible conscience.
The Time Out investigates group dynamics, and what happens in the moments before a big event takes place. Throughout the show, you are at times made to feel at ease and feel comfortable with your surroundings, and then just as you are rewarded with that feeling, it is taken away and you are put in situations that most people would probably try to avoid. For example, as part of the ‘team-building’ process, you are asked to engage in physical trust exercises with the total stranger sat next to you, including holding hands and slowly straightening your arms out so you are relying on each other to hold the other person’s weight.
There was a definite feeling of being back at school and having that teacher-pupil divide. This feeling of being a pupil ordered about was emphasised by the film projection that spilled out across the row of grey lockers. It was like one of those bossy ‘get fit quick’ DVDs where you have to follow the physical instructions. Blacked-out goggles were also used at one point in the piece, which immediately created a very different dynamic – a difficult situation to be in, encouraging a sense of isolation and vulnerability for those five minutes that you sat with the goggles on. When you took them off, you felt a great sense of release: the participants experienced something with these eleven other people that was completely unique.
I believe non zero one’s aim with this highly interactive piece was to plunge you (excuse the pun) into the deep end, both emotionally and sensually. It was a very intimate show, and they proved to the audience members (most of them complete strangers) that all humans have similar fears and hopes and inhibitions, and that we’re not all that different from one another.
Larger-than-life performances and a well thought-out structure meant that, as long as you’re a fan of audience interaction, the show is well worth your time, so if you have the opportunity, plunge in.