Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Director: Jack Ryder
Reviewer: Mark Clegg
When the movie The Full Monty opened in 1997 on the same weekend as the death of Princess Diana, it was suggested that its success was down to the public needing something to cheer them up at such a tragic time. There is no doubt an element of truth to this, but four Oscar nominations, its continued success over the past (almost) two decades and now this stunning stage version prove the strength of the material.
Adapted for the stage by Simon Beaufoy from his own screenplay, this stage production is a pretty faithful retelling of the film and importantly not the Broadway musical adaptation from 2000 that unwisely moved the action to America.
The plot is exactly as you will remember it. A diverse group of six men in unemployment ravaged Sheffield decide to form a striptease act as a way to raise funds and their own self-esteem. Friendships are challenged and formed on the way to their debut performance that will feature something that other male strip acts don’t offer – ‘the full Monty’, or complete onstage nudity.
The majority of the assembled audience is obviously made up of women and an excited buzz runs through the auditorium as the crowd settles into their seats. The atmosphere is closer to that of a pop concert or a hen party than a play, and the announcement that photography is not allowed is hilariously greeted with a chorus of disappointed groans. The real-life audience mirrors the (mainly unseen) on-stage collection of baying women and the crowd are very much ready to be entertained. Which they are – in spades.
Instead of relying on goodwill and anticipation to carry the bulk of evening, Beaufoy has done an impressive job on the script. This is no straight screen-to-stage hack job. Beaufoy has moulded a fresh take on the much-loved movie that includes all your favourite scenes – Gerald’s job interview that is interrupted by garden gnomes, the dole queue dance to Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, Lomper’s attempted suicide (funnier and much more effective than the film) and of course, the big finale – however, the script has been fine-tuned, some cracking one-liners have been added and the intimacy of the theatre allows the drama to be stronger and the laughs to be bigger.
The cast is uniformly superb, with the core six men working particularly well together. Gary Lucy’s laddish Gaz and Martin Miller’s chunky Dave form the central relationship and are both given as many emotional beats as comic ones. Andrew Dunn is the initially snobbish Gerald and his anguish at losing his lifestyle and his slow warming to the rest of the group are very well played. Louis Emerick is the interestingly named Horse, Bobby Schofield is a wonderfully awkward Lomper and Rupert Hill as Guy gets the biggest reaction of the night with his startlingly impressive reveal at the end of act one.
The set is amazing, the lighting is fantastic and the choreography, while deliberately never delivered perfectly, is nevertheless superb. Do not allow yourself to miss this hilarious theatrical treat.
Quite simply put, The Full Monty is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Leave it to the cast to remove theirs instead.
Runs until 21November 2015 | Image: Contributed