This is a love story, but not as you know it. There’s a hand whisk and chronic depression. There’s a mambo and suicidal desires. There’s even a really bloody awkward game of badminton.
Bryony and Tim have made an outstanding piece of theatre and performance art. She is an artist and he is, well, now he’s an artist too. He gave up his day job in advertising to go on the road with his partner Bryony. Their show is about how their relationship has dealt with Tim’s poor mental health.
I’m not really a fan of conventional love stories. I don’t believe in Love (TM), as Laurie Penny calls it. I know it’s invented by Hollywood or Hallmark. I don’t even usually believe that a monogamous long-term relationship is for me. I understand why most people choose them, even though I can’t imagine wanting one for myself. But every so often I get a glimpse of how essential a relationship could be. Sometimes it’s a film or a book and sometimes it’s when I witness a moment of love between a couple I know.
Last night I had that glimpse again, in Fake It ‘Til You Make It, which is on at the Southbank Centre. This show is a brave and timely journey through male mental health, the pressure and performance of masculinity, and the love that seems to be the only solution. It’s also a real roller-coaster—with laughter, confusion, joy, anguish and tears.
I particularly liked the way it didn’t over-do the man stuff. Bryony and Tim chose not to play on many clichés about men. Many of us can see through the dominant forms of masculinity anyway, so these artists just decided to stick with Tim stripped bare, allowing audience members to project their own understanding of masculinity on to him. Clever trick.
Bryony and Tim are taking it to the Edinburgh festival and I wish them all the best with it.