REVIEW: Safety in Numbers (A Slightly Isolated Dog)

Review by Tim George

[And Then There Was Fun]

Directed by Leo Gene Peters, Safety in Numbers, the new production from A Slightly Isolated Dog takes the familiar framework of a locked room mystery and throws away the room.  

Created and performed by Andrew Paterson, Jonathan Price, Jack Buchanan, Charlie Chignell, Jackson Collier, Tiani Taia Po’ona, Brianna Linkhorn, Eli Lockie, Tane Patterson, and Ruby Wills, Safety in Numbers takes the familiar elements – a group of eccentric characters/suspects, a single location, a brilliant detective, a bodycount – and plays it out at breakneck speed.

The ensemble play multiple characters, through a clever combination of floating backdrops (care of designer Nati Pereira), lighting and sound (Sam Clavis), and some simple but ingenious transitions (one performer playing an interrogation between two characters by the simple removal of a hat or glasses).

There is an inherent ridiculousness to tackling a genre like this with half the cast and little mise-en-scene, and it is part of the fun. 

One aspect of the show I liked was how it never tried to overburden itself with jokes. The presentation is so inherently silly that often the funniest moments are when the players go through the familiar tropes, either through clue-finding, interviewing witnesses or discovering a fresh murder victim.. 

And while there is some back-and-forth with the audience, for the most part the performance is carried without a wink. The creative team recognise that this material is funnier if it is played more earnestly.

The show’s other strength is that the pace never lets up. There is no sense of repetitiveness or filler scenes. 

The one aspect of the show that feels a tad extraneous is the interaction with the audience. While it is funny, it is so peripheral to the performance, it feels almost unnecessary.

This is a minor niggle. Safety in Numbers is a solid genre piece elevated by the inherent surrealism of its production and a game cast. 

Safety in Numbers plays Q Loft 12-17 July 2022.

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