Up until recently Tim Grayburn was sitting at a desk in London, working as an Account Manager at a top advertising agency. Now, he is in a Melbourne theatre, doing the twist in his Y-fronts, shaking a maraca, and singing backing vocals to a song about a ‘broken brain’.
First impressions suggest he is a basket case; he even wears a basket to cover his head. He is not alone though. His girlfriend, dance partner, and lead vocalist, Bryony Kimmings, similarly attired in flesh tone shape-wear and a wicker headdress, is right by Tim’s side.
Following this opening number reminiscent of a live performance by chandelier swinging Sia, Bryony, an award-winning performance artist, greets the audience. She explains what lies ahead is a love story – their love story. But unlike The Notebook it will be focussing on the darkness in their relationship, leaving the monotonous day-to-day drama for another show.
What follows is a series of narrative sequences, choreographed numbers, and taped recordings, which convey the different stages of Tim and Bryony’s romance, and Tim’s personal experience with severe depression. When Bryony first discovered Tim’s secret, six months into their relationship, their destinies changed, a moment beautifully expressed in the performance through a love song, which Bryony wrote for her man.
This show tugs at your heartstrings. Bryony and Tim share so much of themselves, their thoughts, fears and truths with an audience of strangers. This approach is in stark contrast to the Fake it, till you Make it advice commonly offered to sufferers of depression. Equally this show is amusing, which is unexpected particularly given the dark subject matter.
The way the couple demonstrate the side effects of anti-depressants, and the symptoms of depression, though informative, is also completely bonkers. When combined the story, the songs and the stupid dancing all work towards raising awareness about depression in men, which for Bryony, who says she likes to go on social quests and take down taboos, is a cause and a love worth fighting for.
With effective, albeit minimal use of lighting, the stage is kept very dark throughout the performance, thereby entrapping the audience in a similar state of being to sufferers of depression, who often feel like they need a set of binoculars to see themselves or their future clearly. The masks, which Tim wears throughout the performance to conceal his eyes from the audience are visually very cool, and cleverly emphasis the headspace he is in. One moment his head in the clouds, the next he feels as lifeless as a brown paper bag.
More than the significant social message this play presents, it also speaks volumes about love and relationships. The mutual support this couple actively show each other, both on and off stage, is very special to witness as an audience. As is the subtle, unscripted moments where you see Bryony tenderly place a hand on her partner’s shoulder as he sings her a song, or the moments where their eyes meet, or the less intimate moment where Bryony checked to make sure Tim knew where he needed to go for the next scene. Like a pair of maracas, these two birds are meant to be.
Fake it ‘til you Make it
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St. Kilda
Performance: Wednesday 18 March 2015
Season continues to 5 April 2015
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 or online at: www.theatreworks.org.au
Image: Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn in Fake it ‘til you Make it (supplied)
Review: Thomas Jones
Thomas Jones has gained extensive experience over the past seven years both in the UK and Australia working as an editor for Australian Times, and a freelance reviewer for Everything Theatre and FilmDude. He was also an assessor for the Off West End Theatre Awards known as The Offies, and created KangRooviews a website promoting Australian performing arts in the UK.