Review: No Idea at the Young Vic
Published 4 August 2010
In true Young Vic style, No Idea doesn’t have a conventional bone in its body. It takes its lead from the idea of public opinion and the way in which the Great British Public are increasingly becoming decision makers, being drafted in to choose Pop Idols and decide who has The X Factor alongside the more traditional role of who should lead the country.
The story then unfolds that, well, there isn’t actually a story at all. Actresses Rachael Spence and Lisa Hammond wanted to do a play together, but had literally No Idea what it should be about, so they hit the streets and asked the public what they thought a play with them in the leading roles would be about.
Genuine hilarity ensues as the two women ‘replay’ recordings of the ideas they’ve been given through the power of impersonation. Alongside funny accents and social stereotypes, the fact that Lisa is disabled adds an extra dimension to the responses we hear. When her small size or wheelchair are mentioned it can seem awkward, but it soon becomes apparent that when it is deliberately over-looked, this is even more so.
The same message repeats itself as the pair try out mini plays of the ideas they’ve been given in part-improvised scenes that range from domestic abuse to romantic dramas and sing-alongs. The play unfolds as a mix of stand-up comedy and sketch show, and the fact that not a minute goes by without at least one laugh is testament to its success.
Amongst the laughs, Rachael and Lisa coherently address the issue in hand. Disability shouldn’t shape the way we treat people, the message reads, but all the more importantly, it mustn’t be an unspoken taboo, either. In tackling the issue head-on and clearly trying to make the audience squirm a little, No Idea is a brave and challenging play. It just doesn’t seem it because it’s constantly hilarious.
Created by Improbable, a theatre company at the heart of innovation, No Idea was first shown as a work-in-progress as part of the Lyric First scheme at The Lyric in Hammersmith. It then toured select venues across the country before a short run at the Young Vic. Its run has now ended, but plans to tour may be in the pipeline and it’s worth keeping an eye on other Improbable productions on their website as well as the Young Vic site.