Still No Idea
Genre: Comedy Drama
Writers: Lisa Hammond, Lee Simpson & Rachael Spence
Cast: Lisa Hammond & Rachael Spence
Review Date: September 13 2019
Performances: September 13 2019-September 14 2019, 7.30pm
Location: Unity Theatre, Liverpool
Age Rating: 13+
Still No Idea is a title that has multiple meanings based on how this show played out on Liverpool’s Unity Theatre stage. For it represents various elements that come together to take a show that, on first glance, has a solely-comedic identity but then ultimately slowly formulates a serious message that elevates the performances of both Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence, and which elevates the reputation of the production as a whole.
The premise is that both Lisa and Rachael are trying to come up with an idea for their show, essentially breaking the fourth wall by acknowledging how they went to the general public for suggestions. Some of these attract their interest, others not so much, and they attempt to put some into practice. Lisa takes issue with more than one of the plots, arguing that while it’s set to be a two-person performance, Rachael seems to get the vast majority of the acting, with Lisa only playing a background role. This runs into Lisa discussing her career (or, as she puts it, “my time with a fictional soap”), as well as taking on additional suggestions.
But while the tone is entirely light-hearted at first, the increased frustration felt by Lisa paves the way towards the show making a real, heartfelt comment on the nature of actors and actresses who happen to have disabilities, as well as how the thousands and thousands of people living in the UK with disabilities have seen their lives take a sharp turn for the worse due to pressure from the DWP, at times with gut-wrenching honesty. Hence why the name has multiple meanings, and it is up to the audience to interpret the title in the manner that they deem most appropriate based on the content.
I was going to say that this is a show of two halves based on the shift in mood, but having thought about it more, I feel that the serious nature is always there, with the humour forming a cover for the true anguish felt by those who are either pigeon-holed based on their disabilities or are ignored because of them. The occasionally-biting comments by those in the street are considered funny in public, but can be painful to hear in private. And this is most evident in Lisa’s song about having a cheeky face: it is this aspect of her personality which opens doors for her career-wise, but it is also the trait which makes higher-ups within the industry and also the general public to wrongly assume that she is able to brush off comments and actions that are, essentially, stereotyping despite us supposedly living in a progressive world.
And it is the authenticity that comes from both her and Rachael during these heavier scenes that make the show impactful. We’re often informed about their friendship, and the fact that they have a real bond, with Rachael fully understanding Lisa and vice versa, which allows their opinions on this subject to have value, and to make anyone who watches this show to come away with some food for thought. Not forgetting the moments of comedy, which at times had the audience laughing in high volume. The idea of searching for a show concept is interesting, and the attempts to bring varying suggestions to life have a ranging level of success, but without question it is the unveiling of the show’s core themes that is what the production is most memorable for.
I would suggest that it is best to know in advance about the emotional gut-punch that comes in the final third, since it could come as a bit of a shock to some attendees, but I would definitely suggest checking out Still No Idea. This opinion applies both for those who wish to understand more about the challenges faced by actors and actresses with disabilities in a supposedly-equal industry, but more importantly for the decision-makers – both within the acting world and for organisations handling enquiries relating to disability benefits and health checks for sufferers whose names are not known nationwide – who should watch the show and have a real think about the role they have played in forming the real-life narrative that offers the true premise for this production.
Target Audience: Adults Aged 16-40
Content: 3/5 – Infrequent Strong Language, Infrequent Sexual References
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good
Still No Idea runs at the Unity Theatre until Saturday September 14. To buy tickets, click here or call 0844 873 2888.