Are steam rooms still a ‘thing?’ I ask because I have only encountered them in movies, television shows, and a very interesting production of Verdi’s Rigoletto many years ago. As anyone who has met me can tell by my physique, I also do not frequent urban health clubs or fancy gyms, which is where one might still encounter a men’s steam room.
BLOWIN’ OFF STEAM is pretty much what it claims to be: six or so guys sitting around jawing at each other in a steam room. With a script and direction by Chuck Delong, not much happens, dramatically speaking, for the hour plus running time. Some gents lounge around in nothing but towels, spouting sarcastic remarks, sex jokes, political drivel, and marriage advice. It might be of interest to some as examples of a character study of males, but the characters would have had to be drawn with more complexity, from what I saw on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
The actors, for the most part, work hard to make the most of the material, which alternates from stilted dialogue to what sounded to me like improvised lines. The improv also might have stemmed from the shaky time some of the cast members had recalling lines or whose turn it was to speak. When the main cast was sharp and on top of their banter, the play moved along at a decent pace and was entertaining – as locker room talk littered with some cliched philosophy thrown in for good measure.
Most of the advice was aimed at Clayton, (Troy Weymouth,) a 30-something about to be married for the first time. His wedding two weeks away and his bride-zilla calling most of the shots, Troy is flustered and unsure of the whole marriage venture. Four other steam room buddies offer mostly useless advice and chit-chat to Troy from their towel-togged torsos. Best friends and frenemies – due to opposite political sides, Jonathan and Dan, are joined by Italian-American bachelor Mario, and middle-aged Alan in dispensing life advice, and barbed comments, all of no help to Clayton at all until the last few minutes of their manly conference time together. The second biggest surprise comes when the oft-divorced and marriage cynical Alan (Don Myers) lets down his guard and gets real with Clayton.
BLOWIN’ OFF STEAM
closes July 28, 2018
Details and tickets
What’s the first surprise? The wisest pundit in the bunch ends up being mama’s boy bachelor Mario. Strangely, Mario comes off as the most rounded and real character among the steaming male specimens, and is played with skill by Scott Stofko.
Unfortunately, the dynamic duo of Jonathan (Ernest Rose) and Dan (Richard Senkbile) are given the task of making a liberal Democrat and a right wing Republican, respectively, interesting in these times when most of us would pay good money for such political junkie talk to cease. Although I am certain men on opposing ends of the political spectrum openly argue about Trump and the economy, their chatter dominated the overall play a little too much.
Among the banter there was plenty of salty language, sexual innuendo, and even talk of which celebrity made for the best man-crush. (For the record it was the cinema’s new Superman, Henry Cavill, although George Clooney received an honorable mention.) I mention the general tenor of the dialogue to point out that if the aim was to show a group of heterosexual men in a slice of life look at manly talk, then Delong and company nailed it (even if the presentation was rough around the edges). You will need to look elsewhere at this year’s Capital Fringe for enlightened men, feminist viewpoints, or support for #MeToo instead of this steam room.
Blowin’ Off Steam . Written and directed by Chuck Delong . Featuring: Troy Weymouth, Scott Stofko, Ernest Rose, Don Myers, Richard Senbiler, Chad Thomas . Produced by Steamworks Productions . Reviewed by Jeff Walker.