Fake it ’til you Make it is by far the most important piece of creative expression you will see this year. Yes, it’s confronting – it’s meant to be. Yes, it’s taboo-shattering – it’s meant to be. Yes, it’s life-affirming, hilarious and outrageous – it’s meant to be. It’s sweet, brave, funny and truthful.
It's also the love story of performance artist Bryony Kimmings and advertising executive Tim Grayburn and the third, unwelcome party in their relationship: Tim’s depression and anxiety.
The name of the piece comes from some advice given to a group of men suffering depression: ‘Just fake it til you make it’. When Byony heard about this flippant, thoughtless remark, she became angry. Very angry. And when she gets angry, she creates mind-blowing and uproarious performance art.
In 2014 Tim quit his job to travel the globe with Bryony to perform Fake it in the hope of raising awareness about men’s depression and anxiety.
The verbatim theatre piece is told through inspired dances routines, original songs and intimate audio recordings, shadow puppetry, compelling dialogue, and gentle encouragements and line prompts (Tim is definitely not an experienced performer!). At once playful, clever and fiercely emotive, their interactions are tenderly affecting. And the effect is breathtaking.
Bryony is a seasoned performer, and she leads the show. Her previous works all break boundaries and push limits: her multi-award winning Sex Idiot was a journey based on her own STI education, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model was created and performed with her 9 year old niece, and 7 Day Drunk was inspired by an experiment in scientific drunkenness.
Tim, however, had never performed before Fake it ’til you Make it made its world debut at Perth Fringe World in February. He had lived for six years without a name for his illness, and now he takes to the stage nightly in a play all about it. His performance is authentic, raw and vulnerable. He is afraid to look at the audience, instead wearing a series of unusual headpieces that depict his mind state, a tangled rope representing his jumbled thoughts, a cloud his foggy head.
The duo’s commitment to their cause extends beyond the stage, with regular participation in panel discussions with health professionals while on tour and maintaining an active social media and blog presence to keep the conversation in play. Such a weighty subject matter makes Fake it ’til you Make it confronting and eye-opening, but this really serves to demonstrate how creative endeavour can cut through stigma and break down taboo.
Fake it ’til you Make it is exhilarating, heart-breaking and utterly brilliant. It just happens to be about depression and love. Mostly about love. Take a man in your life to see it when it hits a stage in your town.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival: 18 March-5 April, 2015
Brisbane Powerhouse : June 24-28th, 2015 at the Visy Theatre