Coming with warnings for pyrotechnics, the discussion of suicide and full frontal nudity, Simon Beaufoy’s theatre adaption of the well-loved film ‘The Full Monty’ was guaranteed from the start to keep its audience captivated – it certainly did not disappoint.

‘The Full Monty’ follows the escapades of down-on-his-luck Gaz (played by Gary Lucy) who needs to come up with £600 to be able to continue to see his son. Witnessing the success of a local Chippendale performance, he takes the notion to start his own gang of male strippers with one key difference – at their shows, they go the full monty.

While primarily a salacious comedy, the play touches on more sobering subjects such as depression, attitudes towards homosexuality and most pertinently, unemployment and working class culture. The six men who make up the ‘Bums of Steel’ stripper group struggle with finding work and making ends meet throughout the play, and the staging serves to remind the audience of this as everything is set around a derelict steelworks building. Different sliding doors on the bottom floor of the two-storey set show the change of setting, but having the old broken factory windows and Margaret the crane looming above the characters at all times reminds the audience that despite all the laughs, ‘The Full Monty’ is about much more than full frontal nudity.

”Each character played well off the rest without ever seeming too staged or scripted’’

The actors take the audience from scenes of comedy to heartfelt confessions to moments of discomfort and back totally seamlessly, and should all be commended for solid individual performances all around. Each character played well off the rest without ever seeming too staged or scripted. Set in Sheffield, accents were authentic though sometimes difficult to understand, and even during scene changes no one broke character. Particularly lovely to watch was the dynamic between Gaz and his son Nathan (played on opening night by Felix Yates) whose relationship, with its ups and downs, was a constant thread through the play and just another aspect that made ‘The Full Monty’ so engaging and relatable.

”Popular crowd-pleasing tunes were chosen for the men, and keen audience members, to dance to’’

As a play about stripping, music was inevitable and the selection for both the dancing scenes as well as the music played between scenes was perfect. Popular crowd-pleasing tunes were chosen for the men, and keen audience members, to dance to. The acoustic music used as the scene changed managed to rein the audience back in after their raucous reactions and prepared them to focus again for the next scene. Lighting choices were also well executed, helping to draw attention to the right part of the large, open stage and helped maintain some extent of decency for the men in the end scene where they finally do go the full monty.

”Despite its propensity for leaning towards a more pantomime-esque performance, the production managed to steer away from that and maintain the fourth wall until the final scene’’

A mention must go to the incredible audience who attended opening night. Cheering and wolf-whistling throughout the performance, their enthusiasm surpassed expectations and the actors seemed to feed off it, throwing themselves even more in the performance rather than getting distracted. Despite its propensity for leaning towards a more pantomime-esque performance, the production managed to steer away from that and maintain the fourth wall until the final scene, where everyone watching in the theatre became the audience for the men’s final show. It was the perfect way to round off the performance, and had the audience literally on their feet by the end.

If you’ve seen the movie version of ‘The Full Monty’ and liked it, you will love this theatre adaption. If you haven’t seen the movie, you will love this theatre adaption. ‘The Full Monty’ provides a truly memorable night of pure entertainment.

10/10

Ashleigh John

Image courtesy of the Theatre Royal

‘The Full Monty’ is running at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham until Saturday 1st  October. For more information and to book tickets, see here.

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