The Full Monty was a British film which surprised everyone when it was released in 1997, taking over $250 million worldwide on a tiny budget of $3 million, it was nothing short of a phenomenon. Those Sheffield steal workers stripped their way in to our hearts and minds and the soundtrack introduced a new generation to songs like "Hot Stuff."
Now the screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy has adapted his own script to the stage, creating a new play that feels as fresh today as it did in '97 which sadly says a lot about the state of the economy and government today
The story remains the same, Gaz and his work mates have fallen on hard times as the country (especially the working class) struggles under Thatcher and the Conservative government. Jobless when their steelworks are closed down the guys do what anyone would do to keep their heads above water..... create an all male strip group who will go the Full Monty.
It could have been very easy to mess up this adaptation, changing times and locations (as we saw in the Broadway musical version), unbalancing the comedy and drama or overplaying the iconic scenes. Beaufoy, though has kept the film’s bones intact, whilst relocating and adding small new touches that only strengthen the script. It’s Yorkshire heart still beats firmly in this show and the plight of the men who are just trying to survive is never lost.
The design elements are impressive with most of the action taking place in the closed down steelworks, the huge abandoned shell captures the essence of the tough times that were felt around the country (especially in the North). The use of the iconic soundtrack during scene transitions keeps the audience involved as well evoking a sense of period.
The cast were always going to have a tough job ahead of them stepping in to the roles played to perfection by the fantastic film cast. Within moments though the film stars are forgotten and we are treated to fantastic new takes on the roles of Gaz (Kenny Doughty), Dave (Roger Morlidge) Gerald (Simon Rouse) Horse (Sidney Cole) and Guy (Kieran O’Brien). However, it’s Craig Gazey as Lomper who steals the show with a warm yet hilarious performance. Only, Caroline Carver as Mandy lets the side down with a flat, lifeless performance that is borderline uncomfortable, thankfully it’s a small role.
Walking in to the play I was hoping that it could step out of the huge shadow of the iconic film. Leaving the show, I could happily say that this new stage version has found its own way and I personally preferred it to the film, which is something I thought I would never say.
The Full Monty on stage is destined to have a successful future and will hopefully keep the cast and crew away from that pesky dole line. A hit already, do everything you can to get a ticket, you will be rewarded greatly as it's a warm and witty five star crowd pleaser.