Laughter in the wash-house

editorial image

Who would have thought that four Glaswegian wash-house women could brighten up such a dreich Aberdeen evening in such a way? writes Kim Walton.

Bittersweet comedy The Steamie had the audience at Aberdeen’s HMT rolling in the aisles, as we eavesdropped on the world of the 1950s Glasgow wash-house on a Hogmanay evening.

Despite the entire show - written and directed by Tony Roper - being set in the one room, it was instantly captivating as we entered the world of the four hard-working and instantly loveable lead characters.

Dolly, Magrit, Doreen and Mrs Culfeathers laugh and cry their way through the last day of the year - with a little help from the hapless Andy.

Simple but big-hearted Dolly was expertly played by Jane McCarry, better known to many as nosey neighbour Isa Drennan in Still Game and Granny Murray in hit CBeebies show Me Too!

Her mannerisms and over-the-top facial expressions were a hit from the start, and her highlights included stripping off to have a bath in the steamie sink, a tango across the steamie floor with Magrit and an ‘interesting’ but lengthy conversation with Mrs Culfeathers on the subject of Galloways mince.

Doreen, played by Fiona Wood, was young and innocent, wanting nothing more than a ‘hoose in Drumchapel’ with all the mod-cons.

Anita Vettesse, as Magrit, played a life-hardened wife with an alcoholic husband whom she bemoans throughout the play. Yet she also has a softer side and, like the other women soaping, scrubbing and mangling their washing, loves nothing better than to pull up a stool and hear the latest scandalous gossip.

Kay Gallie played the elderly Mrs Culfeathers, a gentle and hard-working woman who provided an innocent humour and brought the brilliant ‘Galloways mince’ sketch to life.

This poignant play celebrated a time when life was technologically-simplistic and such things as telephones, televisions and even baths were highly desired and sought-after items.

But some things never change, including the fact that a good gossip between friends always puts the world to rights and the washing will always need doing!

And after spending an evening in The Steamie, we all left wondering how we could get our hands on some Galloways mince?

The Steamie (25th anniversary tour) is being shown at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday (April 28). Call (01224) 641122 or visit for details.