Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Director: Rupert Hill
Reviewer: Helen Jones
There can’t be many people above a certain age who haven’t seen the film The Full Monty, released in 1997 to great acclaim. The story of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers resonated in the post-Thatcher era yet gave a feel-good factor to a dark time in modern history. Writer Simon Beaufoy has skillfully adapted his film for the stage to great effect.
Gaz and his best mate Dave had been made unemployed six months earlier when the steel factory they both worked in had closed. But Gaz is desperate for money. He owes his ex-wife several months maintenance for their son Nathan, and now he is under threat of losing access to him. After a local working men’s club hosts a highly successful visit by the Chippendales, he gets the idea that he and a group of guys should form their own group of strippers and perform for one night only so he can make the money to pay his ex-wife. After being goaded by some local women he promises the group will go the ‘full monty’. As expected, all does not go smoothly in rehearsing and creating the performance but eventually, it is the night of the show and it goes ahead to great success.
Set predominantly in the old steel works the show uses the accoutrements left around as seats, tables and other furniture for both that location and the various others used throughout. Designer Robert Jones set is effective and beautifully thought out while the work of Lighting Designer Colin Grenfell enhances the various locations and situations.
The play uses much of the same music as the film, many of which are iconic to certain scenes. These are recreated on the stage with great surety. Unfortunately, the staging and script are the strongest part of this production. Gary Lucy has made the role of Gaz his own, having played the character in previous tours. But he is not the most gifted actor, lackng both the necessary lightness of touch and depth when needed to give the role of Gaz any conviction or ability to carry the play. Thankfully Kai Owen as best mate Dave is excellent, garning both laughter and sympathy with a deft touch and excellent timing. Louis Emerick is also good as Horse while Andrew Dunn (Gerald), Joe Gill (Lomper) and James Redmond (Guy) all put in decent performances. Fraser Kelly as Gaz’s son Nathan turns in a strong performance and is a name to watch out for in a few years, while the ensemble cast work hard and effectively as the multiple other characters.
Overall The Full Monty is a play which leaves the audience laughing and happy but it really needs a leading man with the ability to carry the role.
Runs until 23 February 2019 | Image: Contributed