We’re Not Really Here – A Football Opera

CONTACT, MANCHESTER 

Knowing nothing much about football and having been to an actual match once (Manc Utd vs Chelsea 30 years ago), I admit to having major reservations about We’re not really here.

I met the co-creator Yahya Terryn at CONTACT in July and I was intrigued by his curiosity about what goes on in the stands and how the footballers experience the crowd from the pitch. He has created these performances in various countries and last night Manchester City picked up the baton/ball/whatever.

CONTACT was crackling with energy and waiting in the foyer felt how I might imagine waiting to come out the tunnel. The audience sat on the Stage while the performers/actual City fans faced us from the stands. As they spill out unto the terrace and the music pumps there is a tangible feeling of anticipation. 

This is exciting theatre regardless of how anyone views football or its fans. The shouting, chanting and singing is phenomenally powerful. At times joyful and infectious, but in other moments warlike, tribal and intimidating. The action is full on interspersed with freeze frame moments where snapshots of the fans reveal  them as individuals but also their personal motivations for being part of this tribe. 

This felt like a authentic take on the fans. Single blokes of all ages, young women snacking on crisps and hotdogs, families kitted out in all the gear, dads bonding with their lads with squabbles and hugs in equal measure. The end result is mainly heart warming and infectious but the speed at which things can potentially turn nasty is sobering and slightly unnerving.

The overall experience is brilliant and the concept creates a genuinely stimulating theatre experience. Further development of the individual interactions and personal stories would help to more fully develop this piece.

Did it work as a response piece? I think Yahya Terryn got his answer last night – ex Man City player Paul Lake who kicked off proceedings was sat directly in front of me with his family. He seemed to be loving every moment and sitting beside his young son was mirroring another father and son on stage. As for me I might not wait another 30 years before my next football match. Result!!

Until September 23rd