Steaming

Steaming - Original London West End Production 1981

Steaming - 1st West End Revival 1997


Comedy by Nell Dunn. Six women - different backgrounds and lives, six very different personalities - draw strength from the companionship found in their local Turkish baths. Here they can relax and be themselves. When their little bit of luxury - their place to laugh - is threatened with closure, they aren't going to let it go without a fight! Please Note: not suitable for children.


Steaming - Original London West End Production 1981

Previewed 1 July 1981, Opened 6 July 1981, Closed 15 August 1981 at the Theatre Royal Stratford
Opened 20 August 1981, Closed 3 September 1983 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)

The original cast featured Georgina Hale as 'Josie', Maria Charles as 'Mrs Meadow', Brenda Blethwyn as 'Dawn', Jo Warne as 'Violet', Ann Lynn as 'Nancy' and Patti Love as 'Jane'. Directed by Roger Smith with designs by Jenny Tiramani, lighting by Mick Hughes, music by Richard Hartley and sound by Simon Curry.


Steaming - 1st West End Revival - 1997

Previewed 1 May 1997, Opened 15 May 1997, Closed 14 June 1997 at the Piccadilly Theatre

The cast featured Jenny Eclair as 'Josie', Sheila Reid as 'Mrs Meadow', Julie T Wallace as 'Dawn', Diane Langton as 'Violet', Lynne Miller as 'Nancy' and Catherine Shipton as 'Jane'. Directed by Ian Brown with designs by Robin Don, costumes by Tanya McCallin, lighting by Ian Sommerville and music by Phillip Dupuy.

Jenny Eclair is a Perrier Award Winner for her comedy, Diane Langton played 'Ruby Rowan' in TV's Heartbeat, Lynne Miller played 'Cathy Marshall' in TV's The Bill), Shelia Reid played 'Lily' in the Alan Rickman film The Winter Guest, Catherine Shipton is best known for playing 'Sister Duffy' from TV's Casualty and Julie T Wallace played the title role in the TV version of Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.

"The sight of the, er, statuesque Julie T Wallace - famous as Ruth in The Life and Loves of a She Devil on TV - gambolling about a stage in the altogether may be something you do not wish to contemplate, let alone witness. But, together with several other actresses well-known from television and equally as undressed, Ms Wallace makes Ian Brown's revival of Steaming one of the more delectable delights to be sampled right now in the West End of London. Nell Dunn's 1981 play tells the story of a group of insecure women who meet and chat regularly at an East End Turkish baths, and band together when the place where they can let off steam while actually surrounded by it is threatened with closure. Ms Wallace, as the backward Dawn, is joined by fellow TV stars Lynne Miller and Catherine Shipton in a cast that's occasionally as wobbly in characterisation as it is in the flesh department. Award-winning stand-up comic Jenny Eclair, however, doesn't put a naked foot wrong in the role of Josie, an abused Cockney survivor, and Robin Don has designed a set, complete with plunge pool, so realistic you'll wish you'd brought a towel. Steam down to the Piccadilly Theatre to see the ladies grin and bare it." The News of the World

"The set for this revival of Nell Dunn's Steaming is wonderful... But while Ian Brown's production looks the part, it never quite takes off: paradoxically, the play's seductive, slow rhythm does not seem to work so well on stage. The main drawback is the play itself, which is showing its age and looking rather more exposed than the actresses who have to strip off on a regular basis. It is still often funny and the basic idea - throwing together six very different women who join forces to fight for the survival of their beloved baths - is most appealing. But the characters are flimsily drawn and too schematically arranged... Despite these shortcomings, the play is still very endearing. Nell Dunn has a great ear for the way women talk, dipping from one subject to another in apparent non-sequiturs, as easily as they slip from the steam into the cold water. Her script is funny and affectionate, and the characters, if slender, are warmly drawn... Ian Brown's production is sensitive, but still slightly self-conscious. Once everyone has relaxed a little, the play's gentle rhythm might begin to hold sway more and it might really start to steam." The Financial Times

"On ladies' day at the Turkish baths, the women lay aside their reserve with their clothes and let everything hang out as they let off steam about the awfulness of men. While Nell Dunn wraps the piece round a plot which involves a threat by the council (run by men, naturally) to shut down the baths and the women's sisterly protest against it (all very Seventies), the thrust of the play concerns a more enduring female dilemma - women's failure to understand what they want for themselves and how to achieve it... Jenny Eclair seizes every chance for comedy as the best of a bunch of stereotypes, a foul-mouthed tart-with-a-heart who is routinely beaten up and chucked out by her German boyfriend. All she's ever dreamt of is great sex and someone to pay her bills until, thrown into the role of a campaigner, she stands on the brink of emancipation. Lynne Miller, uptight in Country Casuals, provides a moving contrast as the woman who tried to be the dream-wife and realises, after being dumped by her husband, that there is more to life than self-sacrifice. Less plausible is the retarded daughter who attempts to break loose from her mother's uncomfortably tight rein. Played by Julie T Wallace, a whale of a woman, her naked appearance with red lipstick smudged around her nipples inspires more terror than pity." The Mail on Sunday

Steaming in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 1 May 1997, opened on 15 May 1997 and closed on 14 June 1997