Monday, 13 September 2021

REVIEW: Look, No Hands by Tiny Giant Productions

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, in 2019, 16,884 cyclists were injured in road accidents reported to the Police, including 4,433 who were killed or seriously injured. The incidents can have a traumatic effect on those involved who survive and this fascinating short play explores the impact on one cyclist, Lila Clement, of such an incident in 2010 at the crossroads of Kennington Road and Hercules Road in London. It is a very personal story exploring how her love of cycling arose, the memories of the accident, the trauma of hospital and the court case that followed and the lasting impact it had on her.

Lila Clement, an actress struggling to get parts and whose confidence is undermined by every rejection, wrote the piece and plays herself in a simply staged production captured live for a streamed release. The video footage projected on the back wall (which looks like a crime board in a police case as she pieces together what happened) is excellent and translates well to the small screen. The accident is effectively staged, and the bike cleverly doubles as a wheelchair. Occasionally the lighting for the venue audience casts dark shadows on her face on screen but generally, we can clearly see her and hear her thoughts clearly.

The court scenes with the Barrister’s disembodied voice overwork very well, as do the flashbacks to her childhood as we see how her passion for cycling developed. The description of the accident at 15.26pm and the visit to A & E are chilling and for a moment we wonder whether she was actually killed in the incident and everything after that moment is imagined or viewed from a heavenly viewpoint. Indeed, this adds a dramatic edge so when the event is reported as a fatality our speculation feels confirmed. Lila conveys well the mixture of emotions she recalls, a sense of doubt and guilt when cross-examined in court and unable to recall details, a sense of hatred and fear of the white van driver, and the embarrassed horror at imagining herself being treated at the hospital in the two hours she was unconscious. These must be feelings that many cyclists caught in such incidents feel.

What is less clear is how many turn the experience into a positive one building confidence and belief, leaving the flawed and fragile self behind. When the barrister is heard saying she “wished every day it had not happened” there is a strong sense that despite the trauma that is not the case, and she not only enjoys relieving the story in the theatre or on TV but clearly recognises the beneficial effect it had on her. This makes it an inspirational tale and one RoSPA should tell to help those recover from some incidents. 

At sixty-five minutes I found it a little overlong and the final sequence completing the circle made a slightly anticlimactic ending. I almost wanted the court case result to be held to the end to contrast with the outcome for her in a more dramatic conclusion but nevertheless, Lila gives a compelling performance, and it felt like a story worth telling as a warning and as a tool in recovery from the effects of such incidents.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: £10

Photo credit: Greta Mitchell 
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