Fake It ‘Til You Make It at Soho Theatre | Theatre review
From the moment Bryony and Tim come on stage, canvas shopping bags on heads and maracas in hands, the audience know they are in for something unique. As Bryony herself mentions early into the show, “this is a love story (ugh), but an unconventional one”. Fake It ‘Til You Make It is a piercingly honest and beautifully brave insight into the lives of those living with chronic depression.
Bryony is a performer and writer; Tim works in advertising. Six months into their blissful relationship, they are living together, sickeningly happy and it seems as though their fairy tale will last forever. Then Bryony stumbles across Tim’s antidepressants and the reality of the illness he has kept secret for eight years begins to take hold of their lives. This show is a true account of that journey: their decision to fight his illness together, to research it, explore it, endure it and conquer it as a team, all expressed through innovative staging, dynamic storytelling and a generous helping of abstract dance.
As Bryony enters the stage visibly pregnant, the stakes are instantly maximised and it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t theatre at all, these are two (soon to be three) people’s’ actual lives. Real recordings of conversations Bryony and Tim have had about the nature and depth of his depression are played sporadically throughout the performance, counter-balancing the abstract sequences to ground the show in an intense realism. The context is arguably more impressive than the content. Tim has quit his day-job to develop the production with Bryony and must tackle his chronic anxiety if he is to help others by allowing his innermost vulnerabilities to be expressed on stage.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It connects on two main levels. On a personal scale it explores how clinical depression eats away at the individual, numbing them, fatiguing them and paralysing them into a shell. In Tim’s case, it challenges the view that “real men” can’t talk about their feelings and shows how the illness can be exacerbated by the shame and guilt associated with its perceived emasculation. It also explores the power of love, devotion and the intensity with which two people can care for each other. It is a portrait of someone determined to relentlessly support the one she loves, whatever the cost to herself. Anyone able to relate to the piece on either level will be left struck by its powerful impact and as the lights come on and the show ends it is difficult to find a dry eye in the auditorium.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It is on at Soho Theatre from 22nd September until 17rd October 2015, for further information or to book visit.