Still No Idea or 'Shall we open out the discussion?'

Still No Idea - Lisa Hammond, Rachael Spence, Lee Simpson
Royal Court Theatre, 2nd November 2018
Written for Time Out



Nearly ten years on from devising their first show, ‘No Idea’, Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence are once again exploring the public’s perception on disability. The hope is that attitudes have moved on and that opportunities for disabled people, including wheelchair user and gifted comic Lisa Hammond, might be opening up. The sad reality is that the public and the powers that be still (have) no idea.

This is a show with a very clear message yet it’s really very gentle – sometimes a little too gentle. Hammond and Spence share an easy chemistry and much of the show involves them standing on an empty stage and talking casually to the audience about their burgeoning friendship and relaxed devising process. It’s all very warm and low-key, like a chat over wine with a really good pal.

Hammond and Spencer are careful not to bludgeon the audience with didactic intent but there are moments when understated risks sliding into un-engaging. The script, written by Spence, Hammond and Lee Simpson, is loose and fractured. The intensity is wildly varied too: off-beat observations from Hammond and Spence’s life are mixed in with shocking facts and figures, detailing the slew of suicides brought about by disability-allowance cuts.

The most revealing strand explores how the public imagination still fails when it comes to disability - either ignoring the disabled completely, or focusing only on their disability. Hammond and Spence play back a series of interviews carried out with the public, about possibly story lines for this very show. In almost all these interviews, Hammond is unthinkingly written out of the story. In another subtle but shocking scene, Hammond recalls a stint working in TV. The writers have come up with a brilliant story: it's all about Hammond's wheelchair. 

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