Edinburgh Fringe Review - The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole

The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole is about a young man coming to terms with the fact that he could die at any minute due to a recently diagnosed heart disease. The audience is fitted with Activio heart rate monitors, and invited into Gavin's shed to meet the bumbling antagonist, played by Richard Lawton. He addresses the audience for the majority of the show, sprouting interesting facts on a myriad of different topics, with the help of his two assistants (Richard Hay and Sarah Griffin) who are dressed in catsuits decorated with a scale version of the human nervous system. From time to time the factoid sharing is interspersed with snippets from Gavin's life, mainly moments featuring ex girlfriend Wren, who he is still in love with. When Gavin has to make any hard decisions about his life he reaches out to the audience for advice on what to do next, selecting his helpers based on who can raise or lower their bpm to his desired number.

Photo Credit - Sharklegs
Unfortunately, although the premise of the show is fascinating, and the main character is likable and endearing for the most part, there is often so much going on that the overarching narrative becomes muddled.  Swapping between reminiscences and lectures to the audience doesn't always work, the love story on which a lot of the show hangs doesn't feel developed enough, and audience members are invited to make suggestions about what Gavin should do next in his life without understanding the poignancy of either decision. 

That being said, the show works best when the audience is involved in the story. The use of heart rate monitors is admittedly interesting too, but unfortunately they are severely underused, and some people's numbers can't easily be read due to the fact that they are projected on the uneven interior of Gavin's shed. 

The relevance of the shed is yet another odd incongruity. Gavin is introduced as a toymaker, and yet spends most of his time in a shed at the bottom of his garden doing science experiments. Plus he wears a blue boilersuit for the duration of the show. These elements seem underdeveloped and make the whole story seem less believable. As such, the show never reaches the emotional depths it is aiming for.

The actors do give it their all though, and there's no denying that the production is full of creativity, from a really brilliant wire puppet, to a contraption which drops a marble down a series of metal tracks and into a box every time the room collectively reaches 500 heart beats. It is clear that The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole is a play with lots of potential to be a stunning and poignant piece of multimodal theatre. However, the plot's many strands need reigning in, and the use of audience participation needs to be implemented much more frequently.

The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole is on every day at 1:40pm at the Pleasance Dome, until August 29th.