15 September 2009
By Kathryn Braithwaite
Imagine approaching a random member of the public and asking them to go to your workplace and fill in for the day. Now imagine if they said, “Yes, ok then, that sounds good to me!” Well, Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence have done just that with their thought-provoking new show, No Idea.
Hitting upon a novel approach to devising, they have utilised the services of the public to inspire their creativity and help them explore what they could generate for this show.
No Idea begins with each of them taking an iPod off the back flat. At first I wasn’t sure where this would end up, but they popped the headphones in and off we go.
Actress Lisa Hammond stars as Belle in the Lyric Hammersmith’s family Christmas show Beauty and the Beast, showing 29 Nov – 5 Jan.
Each actor begins to relay the recorded conversations they had with the public, to great effect, taking on the roles of black female “yoofs”, middle class ladies, a misogynistic chap and what seemed to be a couple of “right on” old ladies.
It was reminiscent of Creature Comforts, but with live actors. Using the craziness, banality, comedy and insightfulness of the public and creating a highly amusing set piece. Both women seemed to thrive from this material.
They smoothly transitioned into their performances inspired by the public’s suggestions.
A scene with expletives and a phantom Phil Mitchell, an observational discourse and a Dickensian, Chas and Dave style show down for the finale, with Hammond’s “cheeky face” song and dance creating hilarious glee from the audience.
We were all in on the disability joke, freely laughing at ourselves and at societies lingering struggles with disability.
Hammond and Spence are two highly innovative young actors, who make a fine “Ant and Dec” double act, but who are also very talented individuals.
No Idea is only a few steps removed from a next generation Smack The Pony. It was a pleasure to see this performance evolve and I look forward to seeing the second instalment due next year.
No Idea showed at The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on September 15 as part of Decibel 2009. It's a work in progress.