I was quite surprised by the number of men in the audience as my friend and I took our seats in anticipation of a fun packed evening knowing full well what the end had in store.
Set in the steel city of Sheffield, and adapted by its original screenplay writer Simon Beaufoy, Jack Ryder (Jamie Mitchell, EastEnders) directs a talented cast who each deliver the perfect mix of comedy and drama.
As we are catapulted back into the throws of Margaret Thatcher’s reign where unemployment is at an all-time high we are introduced to best mates Gaz (Gary Lucy) and Dave (Kai Owen) who are trying to make ends meet by breaking into their former steelworks for the girders…Gaz has his young son Nathan with him, played superbly well for this performance by shining star Felix Yates – I’m sure he’s loved telling his mates he gets permissions to swear every evening!
It’s been almost 20 years since the film became an unexpected success and over time you forget this was more than just about unemployed steel workers who decide to do one better than the Chippendales and go “The Full Monty” to raise some cash. Each character dealt with some hard-hitting issues – issues that are still very real today – whilst still making this a thoroughly entertaining show from beginning to end. You couldn’t help but love each of them.
Clearly the ladies favourite, Gary Lucy had good chemistry with his son Nathan as he battled his ex-Mandy (Charlotte Powell) for custody whilst she attempted to move on with her new fella Barry (you would never have guessed this was Jonathan McGarrity’s first theatre tour.)
Dave is dealing with impotence and obesity issues since losing his job – made worse when he discovers his wife Jean (Fiona Skinner) has been to see the Chippendales. Despite their ups and downs it is clear they love each other and that things will work out in the end.
The story also deals with attempted suicide as Lomper (Anthony Lewis) feels he can no longer cope – the scene was very dramatic but had the perfect balance of humour when Gaz and Dave raced in to save the day.
Completing the line-up of strippers we also have:
Horse played by former Brookside favourite Louis Emerick who just doesn’t seem to age
Gerald (Dinnerladies star Andrew Dunn) great one-liners delivered with ease and who has kept his redundancy a secret from his wife Linda (Pauline Fleming)
Guy (Chris Fountain) whose arrival at the end of act 1 is the best laugh out loud moment of the show (I won’t spoil it)
A very slimmed down Chris Fountain was almost unrecognisable – he did a great job, the stage is definitely his friend and he deserves this second shot, I look forward to seeing him in future roles.
I loved watching William Ilkley as the role of club owner, he was witty and real. He is one fine actor on stage and screen and it was a privilege to see him live.
Obviously most people were there to see the final act and boy do they nail it. The ticket money is worth the final scene alone and you will have a right good laugh all the way through.
Question is – do they really go The Full Monty? Buy a ticket and find out – you won’t be disappointed. I’m sure the lighting guys will be everyone’s best friend on this tour
Good: The ending of course
Not so good: A few set fumbles which will iron out as the show progresses its run
The Full Monty, Theatre Royal Nottingham until 1st October