Adelaide Fringe 2015
How does society view men with depression or other mental illnesses? Too often men are made to feel they should to just suck it up and get on with it. But most of the time that just isn’t a realistic option. This topic is investigated gently and thoroughly by partners in real life, Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn, who provide moments of humour interspersed with moments of heartbreak, mayhem and terror. It’s a wild ride, but a ride worth taking.
Cue the lights! Two people shaking maracas and wearing woven baskets on their heads dressed only in their underwear while singing about maths and doctors was a most interesting first impression of our protagonists. Then they started to dance. All very confusing, which I think was the point. Excellent start.
The show was broadly about trying to smash down the stigma and taboos surrounding men with depression. More specifically, the show was about the relationship between Bryony and Tim, and Bryony’s journey towards understanding Tim’s mental illness in order to better support him, and Tim’s journey towards being able to manage his condition.
This was show number 12 of the 165 [!] shows they have planned for the year. Tim, having no previous stage experience (apart from the previous 11 shows), seemed understandably nervous. Throughout the show he wore various types of headgear which served two purposes: to avoid eye contact with the audience, and to visually signify his state of mind at that moment in the narrative.
The dance pieces seemed representative of their relationship during the time in which the story takes place, with Bryony moving smoothly and elegantly like a trained dancer, and Tim just managing to keep up without stumbling.
Each scene was punctuated by a period of darkness, when recorded conversations which narrated the couple’s history were played. I found these the most affecting moments, as these conversations felt more real and raw. There were sweet moments of comfort, moments of courage, moments of mood swings and panic, worry and desperation; all deftly dealt with by the highly skilled Bryony and ably assisted by the fast-learning Tim. Then came the pivotal moment when their lives were changed — but it could have ended up much worse.
Using dynamic lighting, simple props, and some shadow work, the couple manage to convey both subtle and powerful emotional content, by which you couldn’t help but be moved. There was only one thing which was lost on me, and that was the meaning of the diorama which appeared several times throughout the show.
Tackling topics like depression, and acute anxiety, these two performers bravely hung their souls out for all the crowd to see, and it clearly took its toll, as, I imagine, each performance would.
I suggest you don’t leave straight away. Take the time to talk to Bryony and Tim (they appreciate the feedback), and you’ll see just how dedicated to this cause, and each other, they are.