What becomes of a person when they’re completely consumed by self-doubt? At what point does humility become shame, and disenchantment turn to depression? Don’t worry, it’s not as bleak as it sounds.
Imposter Syndrome is a smart and experimental 11-minute tragicomedy performed by Philip Dikotla and devised by Dikotla and Joe Young. Merging the responsive and improvisational beats of stand-up comedy with the rigour and narrative-driven execution of theatre, Dikotla dons a horse’s head and becomes a washed up and disillusioned Hollywood actor à la Bojack Horseman.
While Dikotla’s dry, awkward brand of humour shines through brilliantly in the piece – “You don’t recognise me? I played a zebra in The Lion King! I was there when Mufasa died” – he also manages to build up and carry a subtle, but devastating edge of tension throughout.
Lines such as “But who cares?” and “Nobody sees me” are littered here and there, grumbled at first, but spoken with more desperation later. Beyond his comedic cadence and despite the presence of a large, paper mache horse’s head resting on his shoulders, Dikotla’s shrewd and economical use of body language also lends a tremendous amount to the mood and tone of the piece.
Ultimately, Imposter Syndrome is a 21st century fairy-tale (or horror story) for the aspirational artist. Through the work of Dikotla, it also serves as an excellent example of the kind of storytelling we can look forward to as we continue to explore the merging of stand-up comedy and traditional theatre.
DEVISED BY | Phillip Dikotla | Joe Young
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY | Phillip Dikotla
PUPPET DESIGN BY | Joe Young
WRITER | Dave Mann
VIDEO ENGINEER & EDITOR | Noah Cohen
STILLS PHOTOGRAPHER | Nina Lieska