I'm Doing This for You

The premise of the show is deceptively simple, and the clue is in the title: what a woman would do or go through for a man who she wholeheartedly loves, even though he has already moved on. Haley McGee delivers a spellbinding performance that oozes sensuality from the poetry of a compromised psyche - and from the pores of the compromised flesh.

It later transpires that this is an impersonation of her boyfriend’s favourite porn star

She first greets us with a wig of bleached blonde hair, heavy make-up, and an eye-catching red dress. It later transpires that this is an impersonation of her boyfriend’s favourite porn star. With the help of the audience, she decorates the venue with balloons in preparation for a surprise birthday party for him, who she promises would come and do what he does best: a stand-up routine. “You're gonna love him”, she insists. In this respect, the show is rather self-contained, but also perhaps more truthful in regard to the experience or imagination of the performer herself.

In the meantime, we wait as she tells her story of their estrangement. She tells of her fragility in longing, often compelled to ritualistic acts of self-harm. From taking pills to, amazingly, stepping her whole body through a plastic clothes hanger, she depicts the bodily price of total subservience, not to mention the sacrifices she makes with her modesty for the sake of his desires. Her routine of dressing and undressing is thus not gratuitous. We, the audience, are complicit; as she acknowledges; she is a male fantasy on display. And her degradation is most keenly felt when he finally appears, mute and unresponsive, before departing again for good.

There is, however, incredible pathos, even amid our callous desires. The performance is not so much protest as the passionate testimony of suffering; it is reluctant to be overtly ideological, and succeeds with eliciting compassion instead. Haley’s solo performance is a wonder to behold; every word and action is expressively rendered, and the whole venue becomes the theatre of her mind.

Such is the power of her performance that audiences of both gender can enjoy the show, and better yet, she provides the opportunity for genuine connection and understanding between the sexes that is most precious. Her compromises, at last, finds an audience of tender hearts.

Reviews by Timothy Leonine Tsang

Zoo

Child’s Play

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Deadline

★★★★
Pleasance Dome

Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show

★★★★
SpaceTriplex

A Working Title

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A new performance by fearless, raw talent Haley McGee. Blending storytelling, live art and improvisation, this show is a big romantic gesture. He’s an aspiring stand-up comedian. Today is his birthday. The audience is her gift to him. It’s a surprise: ‘You get comedy and cake. I get to correct a mistake.’ Funny, uncomfortable and a little bit sad, IDTFY explores the extremes a person will go in the name of obliterating her loneliness. ‘Acutely invigorating... Sharp beyond belief... A hilarious, haunting show.’ (Top 10 Plays of 2015, Coast, Halifax).