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Theatre Review: The Steamie ****

Michael Cox reviews the latest production 'that honours one of Scottish theatre's crown jewels'.

Tony Roper’s The Steamie takes the Hydro by storm—almost quite literally. Rather than starting the dramatic action in the titular location, we open on a Glaswegian street and are treated to a huge musical number, complete with a large tram and singing and dancing citizens praising the wonders of their beloved city.

It’s a rather large, impressive opening to a play that is, at its heart, an initiate piece about the banter and comradeship between four working class women from different social backgrounds. Roper’s play was famously turned down by many companies that accused it for having little dramatic depth—ironic as this is the play’s greatest strengths: it’s far more interested in the relationship between the women than in what’s happening in their lives.

Roper’s latest production actually fits the Hydro rather well—large screens and an impressive sound system allows for the action to play out to the rather large crowd, and the technical presentation and the spectacle of song and dance numbers impress.

Yet, in the end, The Steamie has always been about the warm banter between four empathetic characters, and it is here that the production sings loudest: Louise McCarthy, Mary McCusker, Gayle Telfer Stevens and Fiona Wood are fantastic as our four heroines—hilarious, engaging and filled with theatrical life that never wavers.

Maybe The Steamie was written as a smaller chamber piece, and perhaps many in the audience came more from the memory of the STV recording, but what audiences are treated with is an excellent production that honours one of Scottish theatre’s crown jewels.

Run ended.

Tags: theatre

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