Based on true events, Lila Clements has created a surprisingly uplifting play about cycling, trauma and the power of moving forward in the wake of an accident.

(c) Greta Mitchell

Written and performed by Lila Clements on whose own experiences this play is based, this is a deeply personal play (and what I would imagine to be deeply cathartic for her to perform) that not only celebrates the joys of cycling but also shows the inner strength that we all have the ability of using to overcome traumatic experiences.

This one woman show follows the story of Vee who is out on her bike when she is hit by a van, leading to a long road to recovery from the extensive injuries she sustains. But on a deeper level to this, it is also a play that shows how an incident such as this can make us give pause and re-evaluate our lives to reclaim something that you thought you had lost. In Vee’s case it is freedom.

While by writing this it makes the play seem overly sombre, the way in which Clements has written it makes it actually surprisingly uplifting – particularly when she intersperses the moments of trauma with Vee’s memories of learning to ride her bike with her dad and the joy that cycling brings her. It is an energetic script that doesn’t leave much room for the audience to really take it in during the 50 minutes but at the end you are left with a very individual experience that allows you take away multiple things that mean something to you.

Directed by Anna Ryder, this is a very intimate production that is focused and detailed in every way. In particular, James Cotterill’s set design formed of torn up maps, and items that are used to illustrate certain points of the story unfolding makes it an extremely important element of ensuring that the story is told properly.

As our narrator, Clements is a warm and instantly sympathetic personality that really brings to life the character and trauma so vividly. The encounter with the security guard at the hospital and the way in which he doesn’t help her is particularly vulnerable moment in which the audience can really see how devastated the character is at the changes now in her life through no fault of her own. But then to counter balance this, the sheer joy in which she shows the character has in cycling sweeps the audience into her world and the freedom it brings – makes the audience long for a feeling like that in their own lives.

It is an an inspiring and uplifting play that celebrates human endurance in the wake of tragedy. It is a reminder that we are all capable of more than we think.

By Emma Clarendon

Look No Hands will be streaming via stream.theatre from the 27th September until the 10th October. It will then be available to watch on demand from the 11th October until the 7th November.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐