We’re Not Really Here

We’re Not Really Here (at Contact) sets out to explore the individual and group dynamics of football supporters.  This is a great example of using an unusual form very effectively to tell a specific story.  Co-creator Yahya terryn says ‘I’m interested in why people are there, to understand why people go to the football’.  We, the audience, sit on the stage, as if playing the game; the cast of fifty, that is the fans, sit in the raked seating of the theatre where we would normally be.  They chant directly to us.  These are Manchester City fans.

What is immediately striking about this play is the noise, and the claustrophobic effect of the chanting.  It’s fascinating to feel how the behaviour of the fans affects one’s own emotions.  At one point they all sit down and are completely silent; in the absence of noise all energy disappears.  It’s a powerful, reflective moment.  At another point they turn on each other and ignore the match; you can’t help feeling frustrated that they can’t be bothered to watch.  It’s this mix of loud and quiet, togetherness and aggression, tribalism and individualism, that produces such a strong emotional engagement.  Perhaps people watch football both to be part of something much bigger than themselves and to stand out individually.

At times, the action freezes and individual stories come to the fore.  We see within the massed fans the grains of personal stories that sit behind each fan’s behaviour, their reasons for being there.  There is a woman who wants to share her husband’s passion and has learnt all the City songs from YouTube.  A young couple have just split up but still compete across the rows.  A parent records their young son on a cameraphone; perhaps he goes regularly, perhaps it’s his first match.  If I have a criticism of this play I wanted more of the individual stories.  I wanted more opportunity to zoom into the fine detail of the crowd.

Yet overall this is a powerful piece of theatre with an inventive form that is just perfect for telling this unusual story.  A treat for both football fans and anyone who wants to see something different at the theatre.

Contact, Manchester, 20 – 23 Sept 2017.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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