The Accident Did Not Take Place

YesYesNoNo are searching for the truth. No, seriously. Within the (very intimate) Pleasance Beside, a visiting actor is introduced to the audience who has never seen or participated in this work before. They are fresh to a sequence of events that the rest of the company have rehearsed. There is a silence, and then the process begins. The ‘accident’ in question in The Accident Did Not Take Place is a plane falling from the sky. And within this frame, the company blend intimacy and catastrophism.

YesYesNoNo blend intimacy and catastrophism

This is an electric concept and the process is rigorous. Each company member rehearses a scene over and over again with the visiting performer – it is anxiety inducing and sometimes very rough; they hotseat them; they interrogate them. YesYesNoNo have formidable experience in destabilising the proscenium arch of normative theatre with an almost carelessly brilliant dynamite. To review The Accident Did Not Take Place is to acknowledge that every day this play is different. It could only be captured fairly if a different reviewer went to each performance and their reactions were compiled into a YesYesNoNo exegesis. Similarly, so much of the performance’s success hinges around the flexibility and resilience of the performer participating in the experiment; it is this golden thread that keeps the audience hooked and squirming throughout.

Theatre is essentially a ‘live’ medium – most of it happens before your eyes, with real bodies in the room – to me, this piece of work felt ‘double live’. Yes, the show has been rehearsed, but not by all the people participating in it. And that bridges between the conceit of theatre – that everything is in some way rehearsed, or at least planned – and the immediacy of real life, where often things just happen, for better or worse. This is the core of the experience The Accident Did Not Take Place offers: an unstable platform upon which there are moments of brilliance but also moments of failure too.

On Thursday 8th August, I watched The Accident Did Not Take Place with James Rowland as the visiting performer. He approached the scenario with applaudable flexibility and resilience, and he was charming too. The audience wanted him to succeed as he wrestled with YesYesNoNo’s routine, and he tapped into that oblique energy expertly. He followed direction without argument, and there were moments where Rowland took over the space as a performer in his own right. This was reassuring. It showed that he understood matters of consent around his own body onstage. Constantly, members of the company told him that they still felt distant from him – that they wanted to know more. And Rowland would try to please them once again.

This is where the focusing lens of The Accident Did Not Take Place can be problematic. The way we experience events (and people) can take years. YesYesNoNo do not dispute this - but a visiting actor can’t give their entire heart to a production when they have essentially been parachuted in. To an extent, this actually limits the full potential of the concept. It meant at times, when Rowland was asked questions about his emotions, the exercise felt cruel rather than rewarding. At times, the experiment even felt vainglorious. Huge closeups of Rowland’s face filled the theatre space in real-time as YesYesNoNo followed Rowland with a steadycam. But the pursuit of meaning is dangerous because sometimes there isn’t one.

This is a piece about communication, impermanence, and distance. It allows an audience to see something live and raw without forcing them to take away any morals or didacticisms. On Thursday 8th August, everyone gave confident performances, and the show managed to deliver moments of emotional truth without the logic steps of a narrative. However, the delivery of the concept can at times falter within its own scope. On Thursday 8th August, Rowland was the star of the show – tomorrow, it shall be someone else.

Reviews by Skot Wilson

Above the Stag Theatre

The Establishment Versus Sidney Harry Fox

The Space

The Cloak of Visibility

Royal Court Theatre

Shoe Lady

Royal Court Theatre

A Kind of People

Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre

Three Sisters

Royal Court Theatre

Midnight Movie


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Somewhere on the other side of the world a plane is falling from the sky. You can see it on your laptop. You can watch it happening on Youtube. You can watch it burning on repeat. From award-winning YESYESNONO comes a summoning of hyper-reality. A new guest performer each night. A frenzy of post-truth news. 'YESYESNONO are the forefront of a wave of young work' ( Pleasance Associates 2019. 'Top Five Young Companies 2018' (Guardian). Total Theatre Award winners 2017.

Most Popular See More

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets