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Fake It ’Til You Make It

Fake It 'Til You Make It. Photo: Richard Davenport Tim Grayburn and Bryony Kimmings in Fake It 'Til You Make It. Photo: Richard Davenport
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Bryony Kimmings may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is immense satisfaction in watching as she magics up a new voice for English theatre – which has been somewhat lacking recently as the rest of the UK trundles ahead. Blending high art with the common touch and a mighty issue, Fake It ’Til You Make It is an insightful left-field piece that can only build on her audiences.

As with Kimmings’ previous work, there is a personal spark that wrought this show into fruition. Here, it is depression, specifically the male variety – as suffered by her co-performer Tim Grayburn, who is her real-life boyfriend and has given up his full-time job in advertising to join her for a year-long tour, which, given Kimmings’ visible pregnancy, might be a bit shorter.

Mental health activism as art – well, why not? Probing love, coupling and jobs via calculated mayhem, Kimmings and Grayburn guide you into unexpectedly emotional depths of a life involving depression and how we don’t talk about it. In order, therefore, to avoid direct communication, Grayburn sports shades, binoculars or grotesque masks as Kimmings narrates the story of how they became a couple and how they both confronted his clinical depression and medication dependency.

Through song, dance, slapstick, voice-over, those masks and a firm finger on the public’s pulse, the duo serve up something that speaks to all of us. As discussed earlier, theatre according to Kimmings will divide audiences, but there is no denying the impact of theatre-making where the whimsy limns a seriously inspired approach to the craft – and is funny with it.

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Bryony Kimming’s latest play tackles male depression and blends high art with the common touch
Nick Awde
Nick Awde is the co-editor of The Stage’s international section and general secretary of the new UK Centre of the International Theatre Institute