30 October to 1 November 2014
Reviewed by Cathy Porteus
The play opens with TK, a fireplace salesman, practising his best spiel in order to impress his Uncle BL who runs the business. They don’t just sell fireplaces though, they sell warmth, belonging and aim to cure the areas of your life that may be lacking. It transpires that this is done in some mind manipulative way, by using a demonstration video that takes the prospective purchaser into a stupor where they can be convinced of their need for the Beautiful Warmth. At least I think that’s what was happening, I still remain a little unclear even after watching the whole show.
The action took place in a committee room at Sale Town Hall, which is adjacent to the Waterside Arts Centre. The venue was intimate and the audience were close to the action taking place on a basic stage, set in the entrance area of the room. In between scenes, cast members donned black anoraks to become stage hands and move the furniture around. This added to the sci-fi atmosphere of the unusual storyline. The same items – a TV and video, sideboard, rug and fold out table, were used for all the scenes.
The play starts in the business office of The Beautiful Warmth, where an unfortunate Kylie ends up having a nasty reaction to their product, ending up in a stupor. The action later moves to the front room of the one remaining house in their local town to remain resistant to the allure of the persuasions of their fireplace (and general wellbeing) product. TK realises that his future in his Uncle’s business is in doubt, unless he manages to make this tricky sale. He does however have a rival, in the form of the best salesman in the business, smooth operator Lucky (better known to his mates as Luke).
The story then takes a bit of a leap, as by an amazing co-incidence, the residents of the house in question turn out to be Lucky’s ex-girlfriend Rena and her fiancé Tom. As none of the people are local to the area, it does very unlikely that they should all turn up in the same small town.
Tom is not convinced that he needs a fireplace in his life but both TK and Lucky do their best to convince him. Rena and Lucky re-visit the ups and downs of their relationship, whilst Tom pops out of the room and TK wanders in and out aimlessly.
Adam Gilmour gave a convincing performance as browbeaten failure TK but I didn’t find many of the other performances very believable. The character of Kylie seemed to spend much of the play chanting and over-acting in a hysterical manner, whilst BL mainly shouted and swore rather than adding much to the drama. There seemed to be a few gaps in the plot, in particular how they’d managed to keep the potential danger of their product under wraps, if any other customers had reacted in the zombie like manner of Kylie’s unfortunate experience.
I did feel rather lost with the storyline of this play and still wasn’t 100% sure that I had understood it, when the play drew to a close. We came out still trying to work out exactly what had happened, but it was an interesting experience and certainly a different way to spend an evening.
Tickets cost from £6 to £8.
The Beautiful Warmth is at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale until 1 November 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0161 912 5616.
Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, M33 7ZF | 0161 912 5616