If you love dance theatre then director Samantha Chester's production of Safety in Numbers is the performance for you. Showcasing this week at Riverside, Parramatta the intimate Lennox Theatre is the perfect setting for the dramatic look into the lives of the five characters on stage.
The scene is set as a party is in full swing with guests donning party hats and conversing enthusiastically. Suddenly the lights are out, loud noise is heard and plastic party chairs are moving strategically across the floor as party debris is haphazardly swept into the air by well placed fans.Rain falls down as bodies are now seen hiding, crouching, scrambling and holding on to whatever they can find. The noise subsides and the party guests are now trying to balance precariously on chairs making a bridge from one point of safety to another. Whilst another party guest is quivering under a plastic chair and another is standing completely still in fear and shock and another is slumped in disbelieving exhaustion. The cast are no longer identifiable as happy go lucky party guests but rather as tattered and torn victims of a natural disaster.
The aftermath of this event unfolds over the next 50 minutes for the audience to witness the five lives deal with the tangled mess they are now left in as disaster survivors. A journey of exploration through their minds, hearts and souls as they are trapped together battling with the frailty of humanity, their inadequacies as humans and the memories they have of normality and their existence which may never be the same. Most poignant is the scene of a young mum recalling her long list of weekly routines over and over again, frustratingly forgetting some and proudly remembering others. A scene most of us may anticipate doing if found in a situation where the memory of your normal life is so very vital to your current depleted existence. Samantha Chester cleverly poses the question "Who do you want to be at the moment of impact?". Pondering the answer uncovers more questions about life and death and what is of most value to you when the imminent time arrives for it all to end.
The interpretive dance is inspiring with each emotion clearly evident through clenched fists of frustration, lucid postures of despair and hanging limbs of defeat. I have to admit getting slightly lost in the story telling of the performance but the dramatic impact of disaster and the overwhelming trauma the characters were facing were not lost on me at all. Most revealing was the intensity of each performers' word and movement as they portrayed the survivors magnetic pull towards each other fiercely bonding them in unity through their distressing situation. Tight hugs and desperate holding brings comfort demonstrating the pure human need to feel connected during the aftermath of a disaster, reinforcing the universal understanding that there is safety in numbers.