Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Director: Jack Ryder
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
Brace yourselves; it’s all laid bare tonight. Simon Beaufoy returns The Full Monty to its roots after a musical stint in 2000, back to the closed steel mills of Sheffield. The curse of laughter is that it’s often concealing something. This time touching upon prevalent issues of class, unemployment, masculinity and depression. amid the lewd humour and bare bottomed disclosures, is a stage adaptation which keeps the heart of its source material. Maintaining its core but modifying its narrative method.
Livelihoods are torn asunder by the ’80s Conservative Government, six men find themselves jobless and with little self-respect. Financial worries push them into the most depraved of actions; male stripping. Those familiar with the masterpiece that is the cinematic version of The Full Monty (1997) will find very little has changed. A few scenes take place elsewhere for staging reasons, but otherwise, some scenes follow the same path, just with less cursing.
One aspect which is very much preserved is the fine line between humour and misery. Teetering ever so finely, Beaufoy’s writing transitions flawlessly from comedic wit into a more heartfelt repertoire of different stories and relationships. Mostly the men coming to grips with their own bodies, self-worth and strained relationships with their wives. Though, at the heart of these (almost genre) pieces set in the North of England during Thatcher’s administration, is that of a father and son. Emasculated, broken and in desperation to prove himself, it is this uneasy relationship that pushes Gaz into baring it all in the sake of cash to provide for his son, Nathan.
Nathan, charmingly played tonight by Felix Yates, does a smashing job, hitting the comedic timing bang on. Though, regrettably, with such strong chemistry between the six main leads, it’s disheartening to find less so with Yates and Gary Lucy as Gaz. It is by no means poor, but we never get the gut-wrenching pain Gaz should feel as his son is taken from him. There’s little trepidation in his fears over their future together. The remainder of the cast laces together effortlessly, particularly Lucy and Kai Owen as Gaz and best friend Dave.
Andrew Dunn and Owen as Gerald and Dave nail it perfectly. They’re natural, believable and generate the emotions, together with Fiona Skinner as Jean, that we should be feeling throughout. The gags are visual and subtle but also crass at times. There is no need for dry wit or the bold political lampooning that is covered by the subject matter, though productions such as Brassed Off do cover it in a slightly superior manner.
After two hours of torment and teasing, more than a pound of flesh is owed to the audience. Very little is given away too early, director Jack Ryder clearly knows what a good portion of the audience is here to witness and by heavens, they are made to wait for it. Trust this reviewer, it’s worth it.
Runs until 29 October 2016 | Image: Matt Crockett