Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Steamie - The People's Theatre - Review

The Steamie
Weds 2nd April 2014
The People's Theatre

Written by Tony Roper, and directed for The People's Theatre by Tony Childs The Steamie is a true situation comedy - centered around five main characters in single room of a Glasgow wash house - the steamie of the title. In the days before indoor bathrooms, refrigerators and TVs, or washing machines, four women meet up in the steamie to do the laundry. They lighten the task with gossip and chatter, joking about life and passing on scandal and news. Their work and jokes interrupted by Andy, (Keith Henderson) tasked with keeping the Steamie, and the women, in order! No drinking, and no greasy overalls!
There is a great sense of cameradie and friendship, as the jokes and jibes fly back and forth between the characters. But there is also sadness and a sense of loss as 'new fangled' machines and a laundrette threaten change.  Mrs Culfeathers, (Maggie Watson) the oldest of the four recalls her life and the joy of being part of a community and the loneliness of losing touch with family and friends as things change. In among the joking and salacious gossip this sudden change of tone provides a surprising emotional moment. 
The four women are played with real empathy from the youngest Doreen (Jessica Hannah) with her dreams of a house with all the mod cons, the practical,down to earth Magrit (Sarah Maclane) and Dolly (Anna Dobson) to the oldest, tired but soldiering on, Mrs Culfeathers.
It's impossible to choose favourites - I loved all these characters and I fully believed I was in a Scottish wash house.
It's a play that highlights the hardships of life, but also the indomitable spirit of women. And I think it is sad to say that Mrs Culfeathers is right - things are not like they were, and community spirit has been eroded away by 'progress'. It may be set in the 1950s but it has a message that is relevant today.
Lots to think about, but plenty to laugh about, and a bit of a song and dance too in The Steamie.
It plays until Sat 5th April. Well acted and directed, beautifully timed this is a five star show. Go see it!

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