the posters for this production proclaim "with songs from the
movie", this is not a musical. In the case of The Full
Monty, "songs from the movie" means that, in
between scenes, songs from the movie are played and in the few
stripping/rehearsing scenes, you’ll hear a few bars.
not a musical. And that’s a good thing, because there has, of
course, already been a musical version of The Full
Monty, and it was terrible. No – this play by the film’s
Beaufoy – takes its lead from the award-winning 1997 film and is
all the better for it.
many scenes and lines lifted wholesale from the movie, there is no
singing, very little dancing, and far more emphasis on character. In
fact, it's the characters that make this play.
the face of it, the broad comedy and dick jokes aren’t particularly
sophisticated, but dig a little deeper and what’s uncovered is a
surprisingly thoughtful study of the male psyche and issues
surrounding it, such as not feeling ‘man’ enough, not making
enough money to support the family, body issues, sexuality and
"that show about stripping", there really isn't an awful
lot of stripping going on.
what some parts of the audience may have been expecting, The
Full Monty isn’t titillating in the least. The men
are not particularly good-looking or well-built, rather, they're just
normal blokes – driven to unlikely lengths to alleviate boredom and
make some money.
terms of onstage talent, the cast is a mixed bag, with some quite
wonderful performances and others that are... not so wonderful. The
standout is Simon Rouse as Gerald, the ex-boss forced to search for
work alongside previous workers and hiding his unemployment from his
wife. His performance is excellent from start to finish, owning the
stage and handling comedy and pathos with aplomb.
role Gaz (Robert Carlyle in the film) is played by Kenny Doughty
who is solid lynchpin, but who took a while to find his feet. The
same can be said of most of the cast; even the play itself. It feels
awkward and stuttering for most of the first act, only really getting
going once we establish what the men are planning to do.
play also has the dubious honour of having one of the worst on-stage
performances ever witnessed. With her inability to project and
school-play level acting, Caroline Carver as Gaz's estranged wife
Mandy generated giggles and whispers every time she took the stage.
Mercifully, Mandy has few lines.
bells also rang when it became apparent that Gaz’s son Nathan was
going to be quite a large role. Fortunately, director Daniel Evans
uses a collection of young actors who are natural and likeable – in
this performance an excellent Jay Olpin.
remarkable set can’t go without mention either. The first scene (as
so many of the other key moments) takes place in a vast, derelict
factory and, although we get to see inside job centres and working
mens’ clubs, the monumental edifice never truly leaves. Always
present, it’s a constant, towering reminder of what once was.
The Full Monty is set in the late 80s, the story
could be taking place today, with its backdrop of austerity,
unemployment and hopelessness.
If you’re looking for a night of
debauchery – this isn’t it. Nonetheless, come the finale and the
famous dance played out to Tom Jones’ "You can leave your
hat on", there is a grand sense of euphoria in the audience.
It’s a brilliant moment, that leaves everyone (male, female, gay,
straight) grinning like an idiot.