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A Steamy Affair (Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Studio
Where: Salford

After the provocative Flag - author Brian Marchbank proves to be more than a one-trick pony with a very funny comedy of sexual manners.

Carol (Jane Allighan) takes a realistic, rather than romantic, view of sex describing it prosaically as skin rubbing together. When a lost recording of her sexual adventures over the decades is returned by the much younger Sam (Nathan Morris) she takes the opportunity to launch a May-December relationship. She also suggests that Sam might do a favour for her niece Kate (Lucy Faint) who is getting less action than Mother Teresa.

Although the usual roles are reversed and the man is the sex object you couldn’t say that A Steamy Affair is a deep play. Its main point seems to be that we’d all be better off for a good seeing-to. But the sheer good-hearted humour and well-drawn characters ensure that the play never slips into being an editorial from a Lads’ Mag. It’s been awhile since there has been such a likable trio of characters on-stage.

Director Alyx Tole sets a suitably jaunty mood for the play with lively music in-between scenes - ‘The William Tell Overture’ precedes a sexual encounter. More significantly he builds a convincingly affectionate familial relationship between Carol and Kate so that the twists and turns of the plot are entirely credible.

Nathan Morris selflessly plays Sam as someone cheerfully resigned to the fact women regard him as little more than a sex object (I can relate). Lucy Faint has a magnificent scowl and brings out the basic humanity in a role that is, at times, written as a bit too precious. Jane Allighan plays Carol as a survivor – having used sex to try and maintain the interest of an unfaithful husband she is determined to make the best of her new friendship. Allighan does not allow Carol any illusions and it is this realistic attitude that makes her so admirable. Although the actors are fine individually they excel themselves when working together.

A Steamy Affair achieves a rare balance being graphic but not coarse and realistic but not grim. But it is funny – very funny.

- Dave Cunningham

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