Sheffield Theatres present a staged version of Simon Beaufoy's award-winning film.

When the ladies in their lives go on a night out and the entertainment includes a male stripper, a group of newly redundant steelworkers hit on a great idea for a money-spinning venture... 
Based on the much-loved British movie of the same name, The Full Monty arrives in Birmingham with a soundtrack featuring Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones, and a cast including Louis Emerick, Andrew Dunn and one-time Eastender Gary Lucy.
“This may be a comedy but the stories running through it are really strong,” says Gary, “particularly that of my character, Gaz. He’s feeling worthless because he doesn’t have a job and might lose his son. His sole aim is to continue to see his boy, so he gets the guys together to make some money. 
“What’s been great so far is that the audience have been quiet when they’ve needed to be, through the more serious aspects, but then have really got into the spirit of the piece and had a good night.”

Based on the hugely popular 1997 British film, The Full Monty is currently delighting audiences country-wide. After writing the original screenplay, Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy also adapted the film for stage and the play debuted in 2013; this followed a musical production, created in 2000. With a soundtrack that we know and love, plus all iconic moments incorporated into the show, the play entirely lives up to the audience’s anticipation.

Set against a backdrop of 1970’s Sheffield under Margaret Thatcher’s rule, six unemployed men decide to raise money by performing a male strip show. Whilst being a ‘feel-good’ story by means of the comedy element, the show also touches on serious social issues such as the aforementioned unemployment, homosexuality, father’s rights and depression. The perfect balance is struck by Beaufoy in his writing.

Robert Jones’ set represents the ‘steel city’ of Sheffield with its dilapidated warehouse built up of a steel framework. Whilst static for the whole performance, there are various sets of shutters upstage which change locality from scene to scene. It is run-down and gives a sense of poverty. Tim Lutkin’s lighting is naturalistic for the most part but is able to have some fun with the strip show at the end of the production. Although he has a string of acting credits to his name, Jack Ryder has more recently turned his hand to directing and does an excellent job on this show. The blocking is fluid and the characters all have defined roles in the show which have been focused on intently.

The actors cast in the leading line up are virtually faultless with all men contributing endlessly to the finished product. Gary Lucy as mastermind Gaz is a typical ‘lad’ and although his accent starts a little too strong, this soon settles and his cheeky personality radiates through. His relationship with son, Nathan, is also very endearing and believable. A particular highlight is Anthony Lewis playing a brilliant Lomper. He is very sensitive to the character’s depression and then later on admitting he is gay – he also has flawless comic timing. The women in the company do not feature as heavily but the material they do have is incredibly funny.

The Full Monty shows at Birmingham Hippodrome until 19 November and tours the UK until April 2017. 

**** Jenny Ell


4 Stars on Tue, 15 Nov 2016

The Full Monty would never have been written but for Margaret Thatcher. 

 

At the beginning of the 1980s she set her sights on the steel workers of Sheffield. So many men were made redundant, it was only a matter of time before some of them came up with a particularly ingenious way of making ends meet.

 

To prove my point, a bust of Mrs Thatcher appears centre stage – and I won’t tell you where they stick the chewing gum.  

 

Simon Beaufoy has transformed his 1997 film into a 21st century stage phenomenon, which is filling a highly enthusiastic Wolverhampton Grand Theatre all this week. I’ll admit the audience wasn’t entirely composed of women; but there were no queues for the gents at half time and the famous gag about the Arsenal off-side trap didn’t get a titter. 

 

But everything else did.

 

The story line and scene sequence faithfully follow the film…and, needless to say, the final fling remains intact. There are plenty of ribald willy jokes along the way…. “are we talking Shire horse or Shetland pony”… but the live drama actually allows the dreams and desperation of the six unemployed men - and their incredulous wives - to hit home much harder than I recall in the celluloid version. 

The star on stage for me was young Raif Clarke, whose turn it was that night to play the pivotal role of Nathan. His dad Gaz (played with great gusto by Gary Lucy) has to find the cash to pay the maintenance money to retain access to his son. And so the story starts. Nathan becomes the strippers’ manager, nervously putting on the familiar dance routine records to loud cheers from the audience  (interestingly, Hot Chocolate at half speed sounds just as sexy) and raiding his piggy bank to fund the fun. 

 

There is real humanity here. It’s a delicately written father/son relationship and Nathan finally losing his rag with his dithering dad is an air-punching moment. 

 

It’s good to see an actor of the calibre and pedigree of Andrew Dunn throwing his all into the part of Gerald the foreman, too ashamed to tell his wife (Kate Woods) he’s on the dole. And whilst the women’s roles are brief; they are pithy, pertinent and very much to the point – rounding out the story into a social study of the time. 

 

The show even casts a spotlight on another emerging issue of the 80s, the acceptance of gay men in an industrial community. Rupert Hill as the blond bombshell Guy, and Bobby Schofield as his newfound friend earn audible sympathy from the assembled ladies in the auditorium. But their keenness may also have something to do with Guy’s equipment. Even seen from the rear, there’s a strong suggestion that he’s definitely at the Shire Horse end of the spectrum. Prosthetics, I presume.

 

Chris Eldon Lee

 


4 Stars on Sun, 02 Nov 2014

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