STEAMBATH by Carol Kaufman Segal;
Imagine finding yourself in a steambath and not knowing why or how you arrived there. That’s what happens to Tandy (Jeff LeBeau) in Steambath, written by Bruce Jay Friedman, playing at the Odyssey Theatre. Tandy finds himself in the company of other people, sitting and sweating there as well.
He meets everyone sharing the steambath with him, Bieberman, (Robert Lesser) a man who complains a lot, a young gay couple (DJ Kemp and Devon Scheolen), an Oldtimer (John Moskal), who is constantly being picked on by Bieberman., and a Broker (Brian Graves). He becomes quite friendly with a young girl, Meredith (Shelby Lauren Barry), and while talking to her, he suddenly figures out that he and all of the others in the steambath are no longer alive on earth, but ascended to the afterlife. God is a Puerto Rican bath attendant Paul Rodriquez) whose assistant is Gottlieb (Yusuf Yildiz). God is no one like he, or any of the others, would have expected.
Tandy can’t accept where he finds himself, and he pleads with God to let him return to his life. But this is not a warm and considerate God. He is unfeeling and rash. The way God is depicted in this play is blasphemous to me and I, personally, did not see the humor in it. Naturally, Tandy is not returned to life, but is sent away with all of the other occupants to an unknown destination while God awaits his next arrivals to the steambath.
Steambath was a hit comedy Off-Broadway in 1970, albeit controversial due to some language, some nudity and its “ungodly” representation. It may be considered more acceptable in this age, but perhaps not by everyone. Ron Sossi directs the capable cast that includes Anthony Rutowicz (Longshoreman/Detective) and Shay Denison (Young Girl). Sossi thinks the play has a particular resonance with Jewish audiences. I only see a heavily Jewish cast in a play written by a Jewish playwright.
Steambath is playing through December 16, at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For the schedule and/or tickets, call (310) 477-2055, ext. 2, or go online at www.OdysseyTheatre.com. Recommended for mature audiences.