Cast deliver perfect tonic to cold snap

Song and dance from the wadh house ladies as Eyemouth Variety Group stage 'The Steamie''left to right: Mrs Culfeathers (Janice Walker) Dolly (Maureen Gillie) Doreen (Andrea Thacker) and Magrit (May Jappey)
Song and dance from the wadh house ladies as Eyemouth Variety Group stage 'The Steamie''left to right: Mrs Culfeathers (Janice Walker) Dolly (Maureen Gillie) Doreen (Andrea Thacker) and Magrit (May Jappey)


THE fun and frolics of Old Year’s Night might seem like a distant memory with the dark and dreary start to the year we’ve had but Eyemouth Variety Group warmed a few cockles last week with their take on Scottish favourite ‘The Steamie’.

Washing clothes and linen wouldn’t be most people’s idea of seeing the year out in style but for a group of four very different Glaswegian women it was how they started their celebrations.

On paper, eavesdropping on the conversations of a quartet of washer women who rarely leave their sinks during the course of the action shouldn’t really make for an enthralling show but it most certainly was.

And that was in no small part down to the four local women who took on the roles.

Eyemouth Variety Group are known for their lavish productions complete with eye catching scenery and costumes but with ‘The Steamie’, they showed that stripping things bare and going back to basics isn’t a problem for them either.

As Magrit, Doreen, Dolly and Mrs Culfeathers, May Jappy, Andrea Thacker, Maureen Gillie and Janice Walker were superb.

Not only were their characters acquaintances from the steamie, they were great friends and the camaraderie the actresses shared on stage displayed this to perfection.

Every group of mates has a chatterbox and Maureen looked like she was having a whale of a time as the steamie’s resident gossip Dolly.

It was a role that I’m sure was a lot of fun to play with some great one liners and comic routines, most notably Dolly getting washed in the sink after thinking she’d caught an infection from going to a public baths.

Although not quite two peas in a pod, Dolly and Magrit were two women cut from the old school cloth and hailing from not too far from Glasgow herself, May was ideally suited to the latter.

Like Maureen she got right to the heart of her character and the same could be said of Andrea.

Doreen was the optimistic young dreamer of the group and unlike the women she shared sink space with, life hadn’t yet given her any reason to be filled with cynicism.

Her aspirations of living in a picture perfect house with all the mod cons were painted in Andrea’s fantastic rendition of the Mamas and Papas ‘Dream A Little Dream’.

One of ‘The Steamie’s; most touching moments allowed Janice Walker to take centre stage. Slightly older than the other three women, Mrs Culfeathers had her fair share of worry and when it eventually became too much fo her her friends were there to offer a shoulder or three to cry on.

Last week’s performances were the first time Janice had taken to the stage with the variety group in a long time but you’d never have guessed as she looked right at home in the spotlight and showed no signs of any nerves.

The only male in the cast was Jim Watt as joker in the pack Andy and although outnumbered he certainly made a big impression of his own.

When you see people in soap operas trying to act drunk it more often than not comes across as a bit cringey but with the right mix of bravado, clumsiness and slurring, Jim got it just right and had great chemistry with the women he shared the stage with.

I would liken ‘The Steamie’ to hit comedy series ‘The Royle Family’; neither deals with any groundbreaking or controversial issues but it’s the homely, unthreatening nature of both which is pivotal to their success.

‘The Steamie’ was effectively four normal women taking about everyday things but there was something about the Tony Roper-penned script and the way the cast brought it to life that made it thoroughly engaging and entertaining.

Next up for Eyemouth Variety is ‘The Sound of Music; which is a musical with bells on but on the evidence of last week it would be local audiences’ loss if the group didn’t treat them to another play in the near future.

They’ve proven they can do all singing all dancing affairs but anyone who went along to ‘The Steamie’ will know that even without all the razzmatazz of a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ or ‘Me and My Girl’, they can certainly cut the mustard.