The press night performance of The Full
Monty at the Broadway Theatre in Catford was unpolished and felt like
a dress rehearsal.
The musical version of the 1997 film has music and lyrics by
David Yazbek and book by Terrence McNally. The action has been moved to
Buffalo, America, where six unemployed steel workers decide to set up their own
strip act in order to make money, having seen the success of a professional
strip show in their home town.
Adam Bayjou plays the main character, Jerry, who has an
ex-wife and a young son. He is the driving force behind the act, which is as
much about making his son proud as it is about making money. Bayjou is too
young to play this part and gives a forced performance. His accent is also hard
to place but, to be fair, he is not the only one guilty of this crime.
Peter St James plays Jerry’s best friend, Dave, and there
are moments when he gets the pathos right. He is competently supported by
Robert Rees as Ethan, Nick Fawcett as Harold and Hervé Goffings as
Horse, other members of the strip act.
It’s only Gareth Nash, as Malcolm, who really captures the
essence of his character and makes the audience care about his story. The funeral
scene where he sings for his dead mother, with support from his new lover, is
touching. This is a sign that Thom Southerland can direct musical theatre,
but throughout this production there are many questionable moments.
The biggest question is what on earth sprang to mind in
casting Anthony Wise as wise-cracking Jeanette, the rehearsal pianist? This
may have worked if it had been clear whether Jeanette was a transsexual,
transvestite or drag act. But it’s not, and Jeanette’s big number makes for
uncomfortable viewing with unnecessary glimpses of what is underneath a very
The final number of the show needs to be rethought. It’s
fine to include members of the cast in the auditorium, interacting with the
action on stage. But they stood in the way of the audience and detracted from
the show’s big moment.