Performance artist Bryony Kimmings never shies away from taboo subjects. Instead, she grabs them for a full-on embrace for the world to see while changing perceptions and encouraging fresh debate in the process.The first time I saw Kimmings perform was back in 2010 with the raw and very funny Sex Idiot where she explored her sexual history after contracting her first STI. Her latest work, Fake it ‘til you Make it, opens up a frank discussion on clinical depression and social pressures on men.
For this Edinburgh Fringe sell-out production, Kimmings collaborates with her partner Tim Grayburn who works in advertising and has depression. Grayburn had kept his condition a secret for a long time when Kimmings discovered antidepressants in his bag six months into their relationship. Fake it ‘til you Make it is a very real love story darkly comic, frighteningly heartbreaking and warmly tender in turn.
Spoken word confessions of the heart and mind precede and follow daft yet poignant musical dance numbers - the opener has Kimmings and Grayburn, clad in just underwear with straw bags on their heads, shake maracas and side-step in time while Kimmings sings a protest to being sent to the doctors just to be prescribed more pills. Props delicately compliment the storytelling - when exploring the beginning of the relationship, a huge sheet is hoisted up with ropes and pulleys with a window formed in the middle to replicate a cosy love nest which later collapses abruptly when challenges arise.
For most of the performance, Grayburn’s face is covered by a prop or mask, such as a cloud or a twisted ball of rope, which adds to the sense of vulnerability, confusion and the distance placed between himself and others. When Grayburn finally reveals his face and talks directly to the audience, a usually simple gesture becomes powerful and moving. One of the most intimate moments shared on stage is Grayburn and Kimmings sitting on the floor with her holding the microphone up to him while he plays guitar and timidly sings his especially penned Duvet Song to her.
Fake it ‘til you Make it raises awareness of issues surrounding mental health in the most heartwarming way. Tim Grayburn explains in the show that the main reason why he agreed to be involved in the project was in the hope that it would help other sufferers of depression to talk to friends, family and organisations. Both contributors’ email addresses were provided in the programmes and so far they have had an overwhelming response from members of the public who were thankful for the show helping them to finally pluck up the courage to talk to somebody. Fake it ‘til you Make it is a true force for good as will as being a bloody clever and witty work of art.
Until 17th October at Soho Theatre
For more details about the Fake it 'til you Make it tour visit www.bryonyandtim.com