In 2010, Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence – one disabled, the other not – performed No Idea at the Young Vic, a show that saw them asking the general public what they should make a piece of theatre about.
Almost a decade on from that piece, they’ve returned with Still No Idea, a brilliant, radically honest follow-up that splinters some of the myths surrounding modern life and disability.
Since making the original, Hammond has had a long-running role on Eastenders and the widely accepted view is that things have never been better for people with disabilities. As the pair remind us, there’s now a wheelchair user on Gardener’s World and a Bake Off contestant without ten fingers. The Paralympics provided the nation with disabled icons.
Against this background of apparent change, Hammond and Spence recreate their experiment of asking strangers to write them a storyline. In a series of often extremely funny sketches and songs, they mix the results with segments of discussion between Hammond and other disabled actors she knows, plus personal stories from both performers.
The crux is this: despite how “the world keeps telling us it’s moved on”, non-disabled people remain unable to envisage a narrative that features a disabled protagonist.
And while we’re provided with ‘inspiration porn’ of swimming superhumans, growing numbers of disabled people in the UK are declared “fit to work”, have all their support cut off and, frequently, end up dead.
Still No Idea crystallises precisely why fictional storylines are crushing reflections of wider attitudes: “if you’re not part of the story, you can get edited out.”