I Am Here, Theatre Absolute, Coventry, June 7 only.
Full marks to Theatre Absolute and writer and performer Laila Alj for a brief but striking piece on the theme of Are we where we are?
It’s a continuing project inspired by the work of US novelist Henry David Thoreau, but Alj’s take on the theme could have been a rebuttal to Theresa May’s memorable and probably misguided comment: “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere."
Alj’s autobiographical half-hour monologue, more of a reading, revealed her to be very much a citizen of the world: A French-Moroccan child growing up in Casablanca and longing for the exotic promise and freedoms of the US; finally crossing the Atlantic and suddenly realising that she was now the exotic one, and then making it to London with hopes for a career lift-off – only for her hopes to be dashed by the Brexit vote.
Should she care? Or should she just shrug her shoulders, offer a f*** you, and move on to somewhere else? Of course she does care: Overnight she feels unwelcome in the country she had tried to make her home.
And in the meantime she’s driven to seeking guidance from a traditional Moroccan fortune-teller while also fending off the urgings of her family to get a real job.
It’s a tough life being part of what’s become known as the millennial generation. As she says: “We can’t afford to be carefree.”
Alj’s piece is clever, funny and self-deprecating, and she delivers it with charm. The strands of her tale weave in and out and tie up satisfyingly at the end.
Telling your own story is always a brave thing to do and here it pays off.