Soho Theatre, London (****)
Mental health is still one of society’s final taboos, particularly where men are concerned. Fake It `Til You Make It is a show whose time has come. Didn’t Jeremy Corbyn even frontline the issue in his Conference speech?
Bryony and Tim though are ahead of him. A sell-out in Edinburgh Fringe and welcomed with open arms in Australia, it’s a subject that affect millions.
Admitting to clinical depression, however, can be tantamount to signing your `unemployable’ ticket. For Tim Grayburn, it was also tantamount to declaring he was no longer a man. Real men don’t talk about their emotions, he’d learnt. Fake It `Til You Make It is as much about the challenging of gender stereotypes (hers as well as his) as it is about a love affair and how love can, and is, transcending the darkest psychological nights of the soul.
In many senses, Fake It `Til You Make It is a crusading show. But that makes it sound worthy. And in the first place, Kimmings is an award-winning performance artist and the show that she and her real life partner Tim (he works in advertising but had never been on stage before this show) present is a bon bouffe of artistry.
Light and self-deprecating, witty and playful it’s also very, very moving, mixing recordings of Tim’s journey with Bryony’s discovery of his `illness’ and subsequent occurrences with a collection of slight but powerful visual metaphors. In the midst of a severe breakdown, Tim for example, wears a terrifying head-dress of coiled rope as if his very consciousness were occupied by serpents (earlier he’s referred to suicidal thoughts of hanging from a tree and a bedroom window).
A show built together, it exudes trust and tenderness in a partnership of rare complementary spirit and mutual support. When Tim serenades a now heavily pregnant Bryony with his Duvet Day song, plucking unsteadily on his recently learnt guitar, her devotion, his love, is palpable.
A good luck Japanese doll sits at the front of the stage to guard them, and care for us. A show to kindle the heart and sustain many others going through similar emotional despair. Positively inspirational.
Fake It Till You Make It runs at Soho Theatre to Oct 17, 2015
Review first published in Reviewsgate, Oct 2015