The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Steambath is set in a nondescript steambath that serves as a metaphor for Sheol, Purgatory, or Limbo. Characters are clothed in towels and sit on benches. The curtain opens on Tandy and the Oldtimer discussing how the hot benches cause one to develop tough bottoms. Tandy, who taught art appreciation in a prison and works for a charity for brain-damaged welders, meets a series of characters, who help him to realize that he has died. Among these characters is Meredith, a beautiful young blonde woman, who appears to be a prostitute or, at the very least, a woman of “low” morals. Tandy is attracted to Meredith, calling her the first yellow-haired girl to whom he can speak. Meredith, however, does not want to be involved because she feels she just does not have the strength for another affair. Tandy and Meredith begin comparing their last memories and come to the conclusion that they must, indeed, be dead.

Tandy decides to explore the steambath, at which time the Oldtimer tells Tandy that there is a Puerto Rican attendant, named Morty, who appears to be in charge. Morty appears watching a console and a large screen from which he doles out punishments and miracles. At first Tandy is not convinced that Morty is God, despite Morty’s enacting a card trick, a spectacular drinking trick, and a Houdini-style trunk escape. Act 1 ends when Morty reverts to thundering organ music and Old Testament poetry, which brings the entire cast to their knees.

Act 2 begins with small talk among the characters. Tandy continues to look for a way out and flirts with Meredith. Suddenly, Morty appears and gathers the...

(The entire section is 666 words.)