Team sports are my absolute worst nightmare, just the thought of a communal changing room brings me out in a cold sweat, and quite frankly unless water polo employs particularly buoyant horses I’m not interested. How is it then that I find myself sat on a bench next to complete strangers, obediently tying a water polo cap onto my head as mounting unease ripples around the room? Or perhaps more surprisingly, how on earth do interactive performance company non zero one turn this nervous bunch of individuals into a temporary unit, convincing us that together we will triumph?
The Time Out explores relationships between strangers, the origins of trust and cooperation, and the response we have to the unfamiliar. Cast alongside the other audience members as a water polo team, it quickly dawns on us that the match of our careers is rapidly approaching, and if we don’t want to let our fellow team members down we’re going to have to do some soul-searching in order to succeed. In doing so we confront our own strengths and weaknesses, ask ourselves what image we wish to present to the world, and cheer each other on into the unknown.
No team is complete without a straight-talking coach and Ken is surely up there with the best of them. Roaring and rousing with the sort of hyperbole confined to testosterone-fuelled escapades, Ken evolves from a tyrant into a friend. A more benign force exists in the form of distant voices who guide us through the bonding process. The performers respond to audience input to help shape the story in our ears and the understated approach is successful in reinforcing and reminding truths already shared without shoving them down our throats. The Time Out well-meaningly plays with its audience, encouraging internal confrontation, but never creating tension or negativity within the group.
This is not just an hour of tremendous fun, but also a piece that makes you reassess what can be achieved with very little. We do not know each other’s names, yet simply through shared experience and a little bit of motivational speaking we feel as one. You don’t need to bother getting tired and sweaty by doing any actual sport, this is just as exhilarating as the real thing (or so I’m told).