The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole

This quirkily named show from young company SharkLegs follows the story of Gavin Plimsole as he finds out he has a rare heart defect which could end his life at any moment. This leads him to have an audience-led adventure, various people choosing the next fork in the road of the story, as he attempts to make the most of his time in this bucket-list flavoured inspirational tale. This is The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole.

The way in which the audience is regularly engaged and brought into the show is one of its strongest features

The audience are kitted out with heart-rate monitors and the cast continue to involve the audience in various pleasant and interesting ways. Those who cannot stand the idea of getting up on stage need not fear, no one is pulled out of their seat or picked upon. In fact the way in which the audience is regularly engaged and brought into the show is one of its strongest features.

The set is a lovingly crafted shed, an immediately engaging setting that somewhat clashes with the apparently high-tech heart-rate monitors, linked to a projector that creatively shows all of the audience members heart rates, which are then used in part to direct the flow of the story.

Gavin Plimsole is played by Rhys Lawton who takes on the huge amount of text with a heroic gusto. Unfortunately when it comes to the actual heart of good acting – being truthful – Lawton falls down. There is a small amount of stumbling over lines and missing important cues that required perfect timing. If Lawton could move beyond the superficiality of his performance and engage on a more truthful level, this would significantly strengthen the show.

The puppeteers are played by Sarah Griffin and Richard Hay (also the writer and co-creator) with absolute commitment and are a joy to watch. Hay specifically is energetic and engaged while being funny and showing the pure focus necessary for a great puppeteer. Griffin too shows strength and character in her acting and puppetry and adds to our immersion in the world of Gavin.

The message is a strong and poignant one, though not necessarily the most original: fulfilment and appreciation of life. Unfortunately with Lawton’s delivery the very criticism levelled against “blueberry eaters” (the stereotypical middle class self-help/enlightened types who indulge in selfies at spa resorts) feels somewhat hypocritical with his overly humble and self-assured monologues. A dose of good old fashioned honesty and actual humility could make this a blow away performance. The direction is strong and the skilled use of mild audience interaction make this an engaging show.

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The Blurb

Winners of Les Enfants Terribles Award 2016. If you had a finite number of heartbeats, how would you make each beat count? Gavin feels a flutter in his heart. Is it heartburn? Is it that girl across the room? Or is it a malformation of his heart – a sticky, red time bomb? Gavin is given a life-changing diagnosis. Hiding in his shed, he assesses his entire life. What has he done with those beats? Which has he thrown away? And how many did he lose when she broke his heart?