The beginning of “I’m Not Here” is just as the title suggests. One minute someone is there and then they aren’t. One minute the chair is there and then it isn’t. The performance asks and echoes, again, and again, “is this working?” And that’s exactly what the audience gets to decide as they bear witness to the story unfolding before them that tackles mental health and suicide.
From guided meditation to confessional poetry to the retelling of dreams, “I’m Not Here” tells a story we all know but never talk about. Doireann Coady, the woman behind this one-woman show, takes the audience through stages of grief that are non-linear and incongruent, sometimes incoherent. She then recounts regret that resonates with all of us and conjures up madness that we know too well.
Coady strings together presence in absences. She demonstrates the genesis of creative work. In her case, this particular work stems from pain that she has transformed for the collective to rejoice in. Coady’s show confronts emotions we often don’t allow ourselves to give in to, for fear of looking weak or becoming consumed by loss. But “I’m Not Here” allows you to really feel those feels. It also showcases one of the most haunting DJ beats you’ll ever hear. You find yourself crying one minute and dancing the next, because there is no rationalizing emotion that comes from someone’s departure.
The setup is rather abstract and confusion was common amongst the audience during the first few minutes of the show. But this confusion was probably the point. How one mourns, or doesn’t, what rules bind us, and what makes sense in difficult circumstances are all a swirling mass of chaos which Coady accurately recreates.
If you find yourself thinking “I’m Not Here” isn’t for you, think again. It very likely is.
You can get tickets to all the other amazing PuSH shows here now!
– Maira Hassan