Scottish classic The Steamie returns to the stage

Scottish classic The Steamie returns to the stage

credit: Douglas Robertson

Tony Roper's comedy heads on a 30th anniversary tour

'It seemed like a good idea at the time and luckily for me it was,' says Tony Roper, author and director of The Steamie, which is currently embarking on its 30th anniversary tour. Despite his laconic reply, he is well aware of the reasons for its continued success. 'It contains all the ingredients for a good night out. Laughter, tears and a happy ending.'

Roper's sense of humour – as seen on Scottish TV in the likes of Scotch and Wry and Rab C Nesbitt – is one of the reasons for the affection that audiences have for this tale of a group of women in a communal wash house. 'And it's become a history lesson,' he adds. 'An entertaining glimpse into life as it was 70-odd years ago. Before daytime telly, Big Brother and I'm A Celebrity.' The warmth and compassion of the writing and the determined resilience of the characters, however, has prevented the play from becoming a mere museum piece.

Roper is refreshingly blunt about the recipe for such a success – and modest about his own role. 'Get a great cast, point them in the right direction,' he says, describing his direction technique. 'Light the blue touch paper and watch all the generations smile.'

Dundee Rep, Mon 18 Sep; Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling, Mon 9 Oct; King's Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 29 & Mon 30 Oct; King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 6 Nov. (Gareth K Vile)

The Steamie

A 30th anniversary production of The Steamie, featuring Libby McArthur, Mary McCusker, Steven McNicoll, Carmen Pieraccini and Fiona Wood. It is directed by the play's original writer, Tony Roper.

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