The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole, Pleasance Dome, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Richard Hay (writer / creator), Kezia Cole (director / creator).

Rhys Lawton (Gavin Plimsole), Richard Hay and Sarah Griffin (multi-role / puppeteer).
Running time

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded and the heart of the universe started to beat.

So tells Gavin Plimsole, toymaker, tinkerer and amateur grownup. From his “exploded” garden shed he will explore what makes us human at heart. To assist we are all plugged into his shed, each audience member wearing a monitoring device with the readings projected, ticking away in time to our heart beats. Our excitement levels also interact with the hut by releasing a marble to run down a track with every 1000 collective beats.

Gavin himself has a dodgy ticker, he finds that a stupidly enlarged heart leaves him at the risk of sudden cardiac related death. Everything seems a potential threat; Gregg’s sausage rolls, crack cocaine and puddles included. And perhaps having his heart broken.

He gave his love faithfully if not fully to Wren, and finds himself drawn back to her; she is always at the heart of his story, even though she is now with Tim.

With the help of his assistants, clad in vascular system lycra, he experiments with audience members to raise and lower their pulse using everything from visualisation to imbibing caffeinated drinks or camomile tea. Of course the act of observation changes things, and here when an audience member’s heart rate hits a defined spot it allows them to influence the plot.

So the story develops at fateful tangents, and in a pulse we find a choice taken between talking about his condition with God or his parents, or staying home or venturing into the unknown. A choice to see a section played out in musical form leads to some jazz-hands improvisation.

A bucket list of things to do would see him living in the minute, but when that moment is painful it’s impossible to get things done and the waiting game is safer. Is the sausage roll worth the risk? Would we donate our unused heartbeats; those we are not exploiting?

There’s a lot crammed into Gavin’s shed, from cardboard boxes to facts and figures. The notion of the heart monitors pulls the audience into a collective experience, but in reality only a few members actually interact. The projected figures are difficult to read and the actual outcomes sometimes fail to prove the anticipated point.

Gavin’s character vacillates between heart-broken and somewhat nerdy showman and seems to try too hard at times to be spontaneous. The obscure puppetry that concluded the piece (there appears to be four possible endings) had very little impact.

This production is an enjoyable collection of ideas, but there are some that miss the beat and it needs some radical surgery to be truly arresting.

Show Times: 3 – 29 (not 16) August 2016 at 1.40pm.

Tickets: £6 to £10.

Suitability: 14+