Directed by: Jack Ryder
Written by: Simon Beaufoy
Reviewer: Ruth Jepson
If you have passed the back of the Lyceum in Sheffield in the past fortnight, you will have been treated to the sight of Gary Lucy’s pert, five-foot-tall bottom. Which can only mean one thing: The Full Monty has made its triumphant return to Sheffield following a hugely successful tour, and what a homecoming it is. The audience (telling made up of groups of largely of 30 odd-year-old women) were going wild even without the boys being in the buff.
For those not luckily enough to be well acquainted with the finer fables of God’s own country, The Full Monty takes us back to Thatcher’s era when the steel mills of Sheffield have fallen silent, and the men of Yorkshire found their job for life had disintegrated like a badly welded girder. The audience are introduced to jack-the-lad Gary (Gary Lucy) and fat best mate Dave (Kai Owen) as the two endeavour to steal from the steel mill in order to keep up with Gary’s maintenance payments for his son, Nathan (Reiss Ward in this performance). Through a series of misadventures, these unlikely Chippendales decide that stripping off is far more lucrative than standing in line on the dole. They recruit a less than likely band of their fellow unemployed, including elderly Horse (Louis Emerick), stuffed shirt Gerald (Andrew Dunn), pigeon chested Lomper (Anthony Lewis) and Guy ‘The Lunchbox’ (Chris Fountain). But what makes these Sheffield blokes better than the professionals? A promise that for one night only, they are going all the way.
The production is as slick as a stripper’s oiled pectorals, with the set seamlessly transitioning from the steel mill, to pub back alley, to Job Centre waiting room by just the simple shifting of a few props. Credit is definitely due to set designer Robert Jones for some fabulously immersive scenery. The cast is also super tight, as you would hope by the tail end of a year working together, and the laughs come thick and fast. All the best scenes from the film are present, plus a few new ones to flesh out the back stories. Lucy leads the Buns of Steel well, and the ladies clearly love him. It’s just a shame that no one taught him how to do a proper Yorkshire accent, nor did they ask him to pitch it down – his fast delivery makes a lot of his lines completely unintelligible. The five other men balance him out, however, and the unsuspected star of the show has to be Lewis. His Lomper is played as a very convincing possibly borderline autistic man, not offensively, simply as a quirk, and he elicits laughter and sympathy with every line he utters. His breakthrough scene discovering his homosexuality with Fountain is particularly touching, with just the right mix of awkwardness and attraction.
For a night out in Yorkshire, you can’t beat a solid tale of humour through adversity, with some cheeky bum cheeks thrown in for good measure. Bring your binoculars with you for the final scene! People of Sheffield – get your hands on a ticket any way you can. Remember, you can leave your hat on…
Runs until 15 April 2017 | Image: Matt Crockett