PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
I'm Not Here by Doireann Coady

Dates and Venue January 24 – 27, 2018 at 8pm & January 28 at 2pm | The Cultch Historic Theatre

Performer Doireann Coady

Composer Rob Moloney Dramaturg Gary Keegan Associate Artist Grace Dyas Lighting Designer Eoin Winning Associate Costume, Set Designer Sarah Foley Choreographer Ruairi O’Donovan Production Manager Seán Dennehy

Reviewer John Jane

Doireann Coady is more than anything a performance artist. Everything about I’m Not Here is very personal to the Irish artist and storyteller. Audiences may determine the play as a morose meditation of mourning. Coady uses the self-created event as a secular benediction to venerate the death of her brother Donal, some eight and a half years ago.

The performance itself begins dilatorily, and not at all until fifteen minutes after the scheduled curtain. The show opened with Gemma Collins, the artist’s stage assistant “suggesting” a few ‘dos and don’ts’ then giving everyone in the audience permission to leave at anytime the wanted – a bad sign, I thought!

After about what seemed like ten minutes of the two women carrying the same two chairs on and off the stage, Coady began her performance by pointing at an empty broken chair announcing “This is my brother Donal, he’s not here – he’s dead.” Again and again, she cross checks with her stage assistant to make sure that everything is working. The habit doesn’t appear to be spontaneous, but a deliberate part of the performance.

When Coady articulates normally without background sound, she has a pleasant Irish brogue. However, when she perorates in urgent, hurried dialogue battling against a recorded soundtrack, it became difficult to hear her properly. In a scene half way through the show she recounted her brother’s suicide and her mother’s emotional reaction to the accompaniment of a looped intro of the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter.”

Coady does possess a pleasing singing voice not unlike that of the late Dolores O'Riordan. This talent was clearly evident with “I Wanna Be Adored.” Alas, she didn’t seem to possess the confidence to deliver without the audible augmentation of the Stone Roses recording.

Doireann Coady is obviously passionate about her project and pours her heart and soul into the performance. Regardless of a ritualized enactment of a hanging suicide which, to me, came across as more bizarre than disturbing, the play is very affecting.

By exposing her rage and allowing us to share in her pain, Doireann Coady hopefully gives us the courage to come to terms with our own afflictions.

© 2018 John Jane