Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

No Idea

Created by Lisa Hammond, Rachael Spence and Lee Simpson
Improbable
Young Vic
(2010)

Publicity photo

In the centre of Ben Stone's simple set of screens is a strange-looking picture that tells the story of this whole show - though not until the actors in this duologue of many voices take it from the wall.

First they lift down the frame and hold it in turn against each other, framing a face, a hand a knee. That gives emphasis (as if you could have failed to notice!) that at four-foot nothing tall Lisa Hammond isn't much higher than Rachael Spence's waist.

Next they remove the image and what looked like Miro squiggles or a Janet Bolton embroidery picture turns out to have been a pair of i-pods and their earphones. This is a piece that has been based on ideas suggested by members of the public who were simply asked what their characters should be, what they should do and what the next development in the narrative would be.

First they perform the interviews: mainly cutting out their questions and playing the audience answers. Then they get on with acting out the 'story', each stage prompted by a different person's suggestion - but the real point of the show is not the narrative but what goes on between the two performers - or at least the performers they are performing.

Like the dwarfish clowns of the Renaissance, Lisa's height and her 'cheeky face' (her words) give her a licence to be deliciously non-PC and lewd in what at one point becomes a music hall turn. Rachael is decidedly upstaged by her vivacity but things change as suggestions for what happens increasingly leave out Lisa, whether from misguided 'consideration' or unrealised prejudice excluding her from the story.

Lisa stops the action and insists they concentrate on 'making observations on life' which further emphasise the differences and involve a tale of Despair and Jack Nicholson (no, don't ask).

Lisa Hammond is one feisty performer who could easily swamp a show but she is well matched in Rachael Spence whose stage presence can be just as strong when needed. This pair work splendidly together and director Lee Simpson has made sure the change in direction comes before the first section runs out of steam, though probably only just in time, ensuring that this stays entertaining for its whole 80 minutes while still reminding us how easily we can discriminate without even knowing we are doing it.

Runs at the Young Vic until 31st July, 2010

Reviewer: Howard Loxton