I Remember is a fusion of live poetry, music and performance with the goal of heightening awareness of the realities of living with autism every day – the “struggle and the beauty”, and in particular the way it affects relationships, both with others and with oneself, as the narrator falls in love, is diagnosed with autism, struggles with their mother, moves in with their beloved and more. Nearly entirely throughout, spoken word artist Georgina Jeronymides-Norie, speaks to the audience while at her back, often crouched on the floor, musician James Gow soundtracks her speech with the aid of a ringing bowl, a cello, a mixing deck, and, mysteriously, a coffee cup.
The text itself, written by Steven Fraser, is plainly earnest in every emotion, sometimes euphoric, at other points pained. Gow’s loop-pedal-manipulated music even lends a worrying note to stories we’re hearing that we might think should be only happy, always building the tension worryingly. Gow gives us sounds ranging from discordant screeches and crashes suggestive of the experience of sensory overload, to beautifully looped cello. His soundtrack is perhaps the most outstanding feature of I Remember, which would be an entirely different beast without it.
Indeed, I often found myself watching Gow moving in the darkness rather than looking at Jeronymides-Norie herself, who performs with perfect confidence and composure, clearly assured at what she does. In this piece, however, the ‘spoken word’ quality of the way everything is delivered became an obstacle for me. I appreciated some of the ways in which Fraser put things (such as one’s ‘weird’ traits personified in a drawing as something “small, dark and pointy”, or being unable to “think in a straight line”) but Jeronymides-Norie’s adherence to strict, ‘Non-Black Person Doing Spoken Word Style Including Lifted Hand Gestures’, flattened much of what she was saying, making her performance uniform, with the same unwavering pattern of stresses, something in which everything delivered is emphatic.
As such, I suspect that I might have been better able to enjoy Fraser’s words as he wrote them if Jeronymides-Norie’s performance had been more varied; I found myself more engrossed as the production picked up pace and tension as, due to the increase in volume, it was necessary for her to be louder and to be acting more rather than delivering spoken word, providing some change in what we were watching. But despite this, I Remember is a well-conceived, honest and strong piece and I hope more are able to see it.
I Remember played at the Plesance Theatre as part of the Litmus Festival until September 29.
Photo: Ailbhe Treacy