There are things we don't look at very often.
In I'm Not Here Doireann Coady doesn't hide anything of herself. Her brother Donal is not here. He is dead. He hanged himself March 14 2009. Every movement on stage is an act of revelation. It reveals the brother and sister as little kids, it reveals the family ... it reveals her wound. The closeness of it. The hardness. The fear of falling into it. And it's such a generous thing. Standing with that hurt and loss and letting us know it belongs to her. She dances through. Starts again and again and again. Stops, checks everything is working before starting again and again and again. The space transforms with sudden, sharp changes. Walls fall. Blinding light. Our seats disappear. Some things she is tearing down and others happen outside her control. She gets through ... we get through. A speaker plays Donal singing along to dance music he's mixing. She dances. She wants to believe it's a trick. Because death is non-sense. She wants to be getting through to him, talking to him. But instead she gets through to anyone sitting in the audience with their own loss or pain knotted somewhere inside them. She gets through. It's defiant and unprotected and brave.
I asked my brother to come with me to see I'm Not Here. He was thinking about it but he didn't come. The play is about losing someone to suicide and my brother did. I did too.
He was 18. He had red hair and blue eyes. He played guitar in a band and was fucking cool. He was best friends with my brother and came on holidays with us. He made us howl laughing in a mobile home in Kerry doing impressions of Eminem. Once he asked me to sing the high part on a Pixies song they were practicing and I thought, “This is the best thing that has ever happened”. He hanged himself February 23 2001. I was 13. Nothing in my life or family was the same afterwards. In his house I saw his bedroom was identical to my brother's. Lines from Radiohead songs written on every wall. From the kitchen I saw him in his school uniform, inside a coffin. Tie and blazer just about covering the bruise. At the graveyard a layer of snow made it look like a film in black and white. For the next two years it snowed on February 23.
There are things we don't look at very often because of how deeply they hurt. But in allowing us to do that with her, Doireann Coady offers us something of her strength. She shows us how to dance through it. And that, to me, is so much more than a play.
Maeve for DRAFF