A Gym Thing has returned after its run at Pleasance Courtyard at the Edinburgh fringe in 2017. Will is a gym addict, and his addiction has escalated. It covers the themes of body image and bigorexia (muscle dysmorphia) – this definitely appeals to the gym enthusiasts out there, but should also appeal to those trying to understand the obsession that many have to some degree.
The concept is a familiar one to many; lads motivating each other to work harder, lift more ‘and so we go again’. Its goal is to try and explain why and how this obsession comes about and its effect, and although touching on it and the image of not seeing yourself realistically, it doesn’t give a real explanation – potentially because the show is only an hour long, but this isn’t the only thing the script doesn’t manage to explore properly.
While the stamina is incredible, the acting is not brilliant. Will, played by writer Tom Vallen, basically does an hour long intense workout whilst acting, and the use of imaginary gym equipment is hilarious. There is no eye contact with the audience, even though Will is telling a story directly to them, which creates a disconnection; a shame really given that there’s so much opportunity to really engage with his story.
Despite being thin on the ground in places, the script is well written and well structured, given that watching an hours work out as a piece of theatre probably wouldn’t be most peoples first choice. The fact that it manages to comment on actual health issues makes it worth seeing, too.
If you want to see a physically fit guy sweat through his clothes for an hour, or if you have an obsession with self improvement, this is the show for you, but better acting and directing has certainly been seen elsewhere.
A Gym Thing plays until 13th May.