More Heat Than Light

In a well-paced, one-hour monologue, eighteen-year-old Alex talks about the generations of family who have had a significant impact upon his life. He takes on their personas, voices and quirky habits. There are friendly chats, raging arguments, encouraging words and outrageous behaviour; indeed all the things that might be expected from ordinary people who happen to be related to each other. It’s easy to identify with many of the scenarios: the ongoing feuds; the well-intentioned Christmas get-together that goes disastrously wrong; the outcast that keeps popping up and the need to cope with people on whom the years are taking their toll.

Ashley Hodgson relates the turbulent saga with youthful honesty, confusion and amazement

Writer/director Tom Titherington has used his own family’s history for much of this play’s content, making it an intimate and personal work. This is heightened by the choice of venue and the set. Although Kite Theatre is a company from Bristol it has chosen The London Theatre for its debut in the capital, as New Cross Road provides the setting for More Heat Than Light. The full house amounted to just over thirty people on the sides of a confined performance area facing an evocatively cluttered set structured to what in its day would probably have been referred to as the parlour. It had all the nuances of an old lady’s faded sitting room; neglected and dusty with boxes of memorabilia, an accommodating armchair, walls filled with framed black-and-white photos of local scenes and family members and a record player able to cope with the stack of ancient 78’s. During the course of the play the items were intricately woven into the storyline and given a resurrection.

Amongst all this decay Alex sits alone on the floor in pensive mood. He’s been up all night looking at photos, playing some old records and looking back over what he recalls and has been told about his family. In a few hours he’ll be at his Nan’s funeral, but for the moment he is overwhelmed by a sense of history and how it should be preserved. As he points out, “By next week this whole house will have been sold and all this’ll be in boxes, and in the future this’ll be some block or road or something and no one will remember unless I tell ‘em”. He tells us perhaps more than he should but he also wrestles with what to include or leave out should he ever come to write his family’s history.

Ashley Hodgson relates the turbulent saga with youthful honesty, confusion and amazement giving the sense that Alex sometimes cannot believe that he is part of this crazy family and that the things he relates really did happen. He gives a competent and sincere performance with appropriate undulations and accents as he brings various characters to life.

Is there more heat than light, though? For Alex there is the need to reconcile himself to the family he has inherited. For those on the outside looking in this is a momentarily interesting and moderately entertaining play but it neither poses questions that need answers nor presents matters to be angry about.

Reviews by Richard Beck

Cambridge Theatre

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Greenwich Theatre

The Dumb Waiter & A Slight Ache

Park Theatre / Park Theatre London

Leaves of Glass

Hampstead Theatre

Biscuits for Breakfast

Wilton's Music Hall

Under Milk Wood

Orange Tree Theatre

The Circle


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Alex (Ashley Hodgson) sits alone in his grandparents’ old, decaying living-room on New Cross Road, the first person there in years. He’s been up all night, flicking through photos, listening to records, re-living the vibrant history that once occupied these walls. With a few hours until Nan’s funeral, Alex uses warmth energy and wit to guide the audience through the colourful tales of his ancestors, trying to reconcile the grand stories of the past with the difficult reality that dominated the end of her life. Based heavily on the writer’s real family history, and using detailed design, original music and a powerful central performance, More Heat Than Light provides a unique insight into a young person’s mind, exploring how our sense of history can shape our identity. 

Most Popular See More

Grease the Musical

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £51.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £54.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets