When booking tickets to watch a show, it is worth checking the fine print to ensure it is ACTUALLY the show you are hoping to see. I have seen two different productions of The Full Monty musical, both performed by amateur groups. I had assumed (incorrectly, it would turn out), that this was a professional production of the same show. I didn’t find out until the night before the show that I would be watching the play rather than the musical and was a little disappointed.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the end of the evening.
The Full Monty
The Full Monty play is written by Simon Beaufoy, who also wrote the original screenplay. For those of you who were raised in a bubble, it tells the story of a group of unemployed men from Sheffield. Desperate for cash, they decided to start a male-strip show, where their unique selling point is that they will do “The Full Monty”. The play alternates between slapstick comedy and dealing with some serious issues such as depression, suicide, homosexuality and the toll unemployment takes on people.
The play has some stark differences to the musical. The most obvious one is that the cast don’t burst into song at regular intervals, but the play is also much more faithful to the original 1997 film. It sticks to the British setting (the musical moves to America, which I never really liked) and the characters are very true to their on-screen counterparts.
This latest production is headlined by Gary Lucy as the lead role of Gaz. He was brilliant, however I feel it would do a disservice to the rest of the principal cast to single him out above the others. The cast consisted of Andrew Dunn as Gerald, Louis Emerick as Horse, Chris Fountain as Guy, Anthony Lewis as Lomper and Kai Owen as Dave. The guys have a list of TV and theatre credentials as long as Guy’s well, you know.
All 6 of the main men gave fabulous performances showing a range of emotion. There were obviously the comedy highlights that the film was famous for, yet there were some beautifully poignant moments from the actors too. There was a great sense of camaraderie between the men and the group scenes where they were rehearsing together were a joy to watch.
The final scene where the chaps finally take to the stage was utter perfection. The choreography was expertly done, slick in places but also amateurish enough that you could believe a group of non-professional dancers may have made it up themselves. I’m not sure if the guys were acting their socks off (and the rest) or just genuinely a bit nervous, but there were a few sheepish grins between them as the layers started to come off.
As an amateur Burlesque dancer, and someone who has done her fair share of peeling, I take my hat off (see what I did there!) to all of the men. I am well aware how vulnerable it can feel stripping off in front of an audience and I never went anywhere near The Full Monty!
One person who ABSOLUTELY needs his own special mention is Felix Yates who played Gaz’s son Nathan. He was an absolute gem, gave a thoroughly confident performance most adults would be envious of and earned the biggest laughs of the night. He was superb.
The ensemble cast did a great job of supporting the principals by taking on all of the minor roles. There were some particularly lovely moments between Dave and his wife Jean and William Ilkley who played the club owner was pretty hilarious!
I thought the set design was simple, yet effective. The stage was predominantly designed to look like the inside of an abandoned steel mill but used some sliding doors and panels to represent the changing scenary.
At the end of the show the producer, David Pugh, came on stage to ask the audience to take appear in a photo, shot from behind the cast during that final, famous moment. While the photographers set up, David told us some funny anecdotes from the show. I thought he was amazing and would happily have paid to watch him for another hour.
I had an absolutely brilliant evening, which just goes to show that not getting what you expected isn’t always a bad thing. I’d highly recommend The Full Monty to anybody. Yes, the audience was predominantly female. Yes, it occasionally had the atmosphere of a hen party. Overall, though, it was a good-natured comedy that would appeal to men and women alike. If you ‘re a fan of The Full Monty film, you’ll love spotting the similarities, such as the dancing in the dole queue and the clingfilm.
The Full Monty is showing at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday 1st October and will then continue off on its tour of the UK. You can find all the info on the official website.