Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Director: Jack Ryder
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
The Full Monty is a show that offers a whole new meaning to the playwright’s motto of “show don’t tell”.
And it delivers using some nifty lightwork sidestepping any real embarrassment. Although the chirpy and clap along mood of the audience suggest they would not have been offended at anything much. The motley parade of underwear, and the now legendary dole-queue boogie, both winning rapturous approval.
It is set in the steel city of Sheffield in the dark days of the 1980s when such industries slumped in the changing political landscape. Simon Beaufoy’s narrative looks at the human side and the individual losses it brought. Faced with the dark abyss of no jobs our heroes decide to become male-strippers to raise some much-needed cash.
Beaufoy’s script is peppered with lewd and crude moments delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Then suddenly it catches you in the throat as it fills the theatre with sadness and the hopelessness of those faced with failure. Some of whom are bewildered by this enormity while others seem in denial. These painful but lovely lows give the play the backbone it needs.
The dialogue is well-crafted and the characters believable. Some of the dialogue does get lost with the whooping of the audience pleased to see so many of the people they know and love mainly through the TV soaps. Top of this list is Louis Emerick, Brookside’s Mick Johnson and PC Walsh from The Last of the Summer Wine. He gives a compelling performance as Horse whose name does not live up to expectations in the equipment department. Snobby Gerald, played by Dinnerladies’ favourite Andrew Dunn, is bullied into teaching the lads the dancing moves they need to become strippers.
Leading their charge into this new career is Gaz, a fantasist who has also failed as a criminal as well as just about everything else. But like all fantasists his optimism keeps them going through these unchartered waters. A role deftly played by award-winning Hollyoaks’ actor Gary Lucy. Gaz is impelled by a need to get money to give him access to his son Nathan. It’s Nathan (Reiss Ward on this occasion) who puts in a powerful performance giving Gaz the kick up the backside he needs to keep him focused as he wilts at the eleventh hour.
The event is very much a team effort with delightful performances from Nathan’s mum Mandy (Charlotte Powell) who has shrugged off Gaz the failure for middle-class Barry. And a sensitive offering from Fiona Skinner as Jean – wife of Dave (Kai Owen) the self-confessed “fat bastard” whose dieting attempts add to the fun.
A show full of laughs and tears. A great night out barely covers it.
Runs until 12th November 2016 | Image: Matt Crockett