Fake It ‘Til You Make It (Brisbane Powerhouse in association with Theatre Works)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre
June 24 – 28
There is a section within the What’s On tab of the Brisbane Powerhouse website called Try Something Different. Currently within it, “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” justifiably holds pole position in a number of categories. From the opening number, which features the show’s UK performers and real life couple, man’s man Tim Grayburn and his fearless performance artist fiancee Bryony Kimmings singing about going to the doctors, with baskets on their heads, maracas in their hands and dressed only in their underpants (as the English folk would call them), you can probably make decision about if you think you are going to like the show, which has an initial festival-feel to its quirkiness. However, sometimes it is worth reserving judgement, because despite initial appearances of playfulness, “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” is a show of much substance as it shares an important message in an honest and engaging manner.
The theme of the show is mental illness, in particular, the stigma surrounding male mental illness, compounded by society’s ideas about masculinity. It doesn’t shy away from the dark reality of the experience of severe clinical depression, which Media Account Director Grayburn hid from his partner until she inadvertently discovered his medication. Rather, it approaches it head on, but still with restrained sensitivity. And its messages regarding society’s emasculation of men are incredibly compelling given that need to demystify what the World Health Organisation has defined to be ‘the global crisis of depression’, as the likeable but reluctant non-performer Grayburn shares with us.
The show is far from all serious commentary, switching smoothly between observation and re-enactment. In fact, its offbeat musical interludes can appear quite frivolous at times, such as when the duo dance with egg beaters and hammer, to the tune of a song about the social acceptability of suppression of male emotions when growing up. And Grayburn’s refusal to show his face for much of the show (there’s a metaphor in their somewhere), results in some interesting novelty headgear choices. However, such moments are balanced with some hauntingly honest segments (in particular Kimmings’ biggest fears about her partner’s health) courtesy of the extracts from recordings made in their lounge room, from which come the true story’s narrative plot points.
“Fake It ‘Til You Make It’ is an important show with an important message that affirms how the theatre of real life can move audiences unlike any other. Simultaneously simple and sophisticated, it presents a self-described unconventional love story, sadly like many others. Its palatable sixty minute running time means that it steers clear of preachiness. Rather its ultimate message is one of affirmation of the importance of talk and the wish for everyone to get through the dark days and live out mundaneness of their lives. It’s a confronting, but compelling show due to its beauty and tenderness, because it is their story. And it needs to be seen by as many people as possible, should they only be willing to ‘try something different’.
Photo c/o – http://brisbanepowerhouse.org