Sauna Boy ★★★★ Stage Door Theatre | May 29 - Jun 1, 2024

Sauna Boy chronicles the year, minus a week, that Danny Boy spends as an employee of a gay sauna. The show offers a glimpse into a clandestine world of subversive sexuality from the perspective of an employee who eventually has seen it all. While Danny Boy starts out as a somewhat naïve narrator, he quickly becomes inured to the oddities of his business, and like all jobs, reality becomes the people he works with and the clients he serves. The staff consists of irascible and controlling "Mother" who owns the business, cynical new-age Marco and the nostalgic for the good-old-gay-days Andrew. On the client side of things, Danny deals with such regulars as a dizzy drag queen, his friend, the somewhat lost and questioning Chase, and the ingratiating and rotund Anthony Darling. Danny quickly adapts to the quirks of his new environment, and he soon becomes the manager of the West End Sauna. Once in his new position he sets himself some business goals, but their achievement is really only secondary to this account, the only real structure to the piece being its chronology. Rather than a storyline, the audience is offered a series of anecdotes about life in the sauna. Dan Ireland-Reeves does an excellent job of creating all of the various characters who inhabit the West End Sauna and the strengths of Sauna Boy are those sketches of them and the establishment of the atmosphere of the venue. Unfortunately, the characters are not really developed and one's interest in them is limited. The show has some very funny lines and some mock-shock revelations, but in the end, despite its unusual setting, it is simply a workplace comedy depending on the audience's recognition of the characters and situations presented. Full points to Ireland-Reeves for taking this easily mocked and frequently denigrated milieu and showing its humorous and human reality. Sauna Boy is definitely worth a visit.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.

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