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Theatre / The Steamie

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If you want to come and see me, take a dauner doon the steamie.

1987 play by Tony Roper set in the Carnegie Street steamie somewhere in Glasgow on a Hogmanay evening sometime in the early 1950s. STV adapted the play for television in 1988, and it has since become a staple of festive season.

Provides examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Apparently this has been a source of concern for Magrit's daughter, Teresa. Magrit ends up getting Teresa her first bra as a Christmas present and Teresa is absolutely delighted.
  • The Alcoholic: Magrit's husband, Peter. They aren't going out to celebrate because he's already drank himself into a stupor. Andy the boilerman is implied to be headed down this road as well.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The show ends with "All The Best When It Comes", a song about the year coming to end and asking if the material conditions that the characters live in will ever really change even if the slums are replaced by council estates.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: In the TV production, "Pals" has a few shots of the cast from above in the middle of the song.
  • Creepy Physical: Doreen mentions that she thinks that Dr McCann is creepy and that she doesn't like going to see him.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: A major theme of the play is the demise of the slum neighbourhoods of Glasgow and their gradual replacement by council estates. The others tease Doreen for wanting a house with a garden and a telephone and other things that had become standard even in low-income housing by the 1980s:
    Four apartments and a view, and an inside toilet too.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Magrit finishes her monologue, Dolly asks her who she's talking to. She answers that she's talking to herself, before giving an Aside Glance at the camera.
  • '50s Hair: Doreen has a bubble cut - part of her Christmas present from her husband, John - but she and the rest of cast all wear their in hair up in Rosie-the-Riveter-style headscarves while they're at the Steamie.
  • Friendship Song: "Pals" is a song all about the benefits of friendship.
  • Funetik Aksent: Magrit is presumably named "Margaret", with her name as it appears in the script being a phonetic spelling.
  • Hates Baths: Magrit claims that it's "a fight tae the death" to get her sons to wash themselves.
  • Hidden Depths: Dolly was quite a keen ballroom dancer as a younger woman. She was particularly good at at the tango because her "bowley leg" made it easier to do the dips.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: The women gossip about Maureen McCandlish, who supposedly had a baby out of wedlock when she was "away working in England." The pregnancy is rumoured to have been work-related, since a neighbour ran into her Blythswood Square, where she gets approached by a potential john from one of the boats.
  • Rambling Auld Wummin Monologue: Mrs Culfeathers delivers a couple of these, which partly act as historical anecedotes intended to be of interest to the audience.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Magrit and Doreen chat about differences between fight scenes in British and American films.
  • "Somewhere" Song: "A House in Drumchapel", where Doreen sings about her hopes for a new life in a brand new council house in Drumchapel, part of comedy of the song being derived from the 1980s audience being aware of the area's reputation and general state as having deteriorated significantly since The '50s. It gets a reprise later in the show that hints at the isolation and loss of the community spirit that existed in the slums that people often experienced when they moved out to council estates.
  • Shout-Out: The TV adaptation opens with "Look at That Girl" by Guy Mitchell on the soundtrack.
    • Doreen finds herself getting a bit hot under the collar watching Tony Curtis in Flesh and Fury
    • Doreen's idea of what life in Drumchapel will be like is apparently based on "a picture called Moonlight Bay."
    • The ending of "A House in Drumchapel" includes the opening notes of "When You Wish Upon a Star"
    • Towards the end of the play, Andy starts drunkenly singing, "For Me and My Gal." Dolly asks him if he knows any Jolson songs, which prompts him to cover his face in soot and sing "Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody", which the rest of the women in the steamie join in with.


Video Example(s):



The women of a Glasgow steamie sing about how friendship can help you through the trials of life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / FriendshipSong

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