THE heart-warming comedy Steaming by Nell Dunn opens on June 5. The Wharfeside stage has seen many transformations in its time but, as far as we know, it has never been turned into the steam room of a Turkish baths in the East End of London, in 1979 to be precise.

It is against this backdrop that we meet six women of various ages and backgrounds, and see them chat about life, sex and men. The environment becomes a great leveller and they can see each other as they really are. Any sign of status is left behind, and they can just exist in the sanctuary of steam.

Dunn herself has experience of different backgrounds/upbringings colliding. She is the daughter of Sir Philip Dunn and the maternal granddaughter of the 5th Earl of Rosslyn, she is also a descendant of Charles II and Nell Gwyn. From this privileged background she moved to Battersea, where she worked for a time in a sweet factory. It was the world she encountered here, and the differences between her two worlds, that went on to inform much of her writing. She’s probably most famous for writing Up the Junction, and Poor Cow for the BBC Play for Today series.

The strong ensemble cast of characters come from a wide spectrum of society; they include a mother and daughter, a gregarious exotic dancer, a single mum, and a repressed upper-class wife. They find sanctuary together, as well as an earth mother who offers sage advice. There’s lots of laughter as the story unfolds and as we learn how they see life, love and their bodies. They are further united when they discover that their beloved baths are threatened with closure, they rally together to save their beloved baths.

Steaming opens on Wednesday, June 5 until Saturday, June 15, with a matinee performance on Saturday, June 8.

Tickets can be bought at or, during box office hours, on 01943 609539.

- Claire Emmott