★★★ | The Full Monty – National Tour
In this tale set in Sheffield, a group of ex-steelworkers with seemingly very little in common, other than their unemployment, band together in a get rich quick scheme, whereby they plan to rival The Chippendales by becoming strippers and giving the audience a little something extra – by going all the way. Gary, needs money as he is on the cusp of losing contact with his son, overweight Dave has a big body image problem, Horse has a rather (ahem) “small” problem and Lomper has his own secret hidden in his closet. But despite their unlikely sex symbol status, the whole community waits to see whether they really will go ahead with their scheme and whether they will go “the full monty”.
Not to be confused with the musical version of The Full Monty, which was produced in 2000, this version is a relatively straight play, which does away with thin plot and thinner characterisations to simply link musical numbers; and instead provides a play with heart, rounded characters, a genuinely funny script and, of course, the ending that the audience were waiting for.
Even overlooking the rather dubious Sheffield accents (you can’t fool the home crowd, you know), the production felt a little shouty at times; and the cast were broadly functional as an ensemble but never really excelled. That said, what Gary Lucy (“Eastenders”) lacked in performance, he made up for in the eye candy stakes; and Anthony Lewis gave a suitably downbeat performance as the depressed Lomper, especially during his coming out scene. But standing out from the crowd was Chris Fountain (“Hollyoaks”, “Dancing on Ice”) who really lit up the stage and outshone the rest of the cast, with a performance bursting with enthusiasm, confidence and a level of sexiness which was hotter than a steelworks smelting pot.
The show is written by Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the original story and received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for the film. The story of the play very closely mirrors that of the film itself, with all of the key plot points, pivotal scenes and music being extrapolated, and despite the running time of the play being approximately 40 minutes longer than the film; it generally doesn’t feel too padded out. What does come across much more in this production is the political and social commentary hidden beneath the comedy and narrative; and there is a real balance between the humour, sadness and optimism portrayed. Despite the characters initial differences, there is a genuine feeling of friendship which permeates the play, accompanied by a strong sense of family, loyalty and acceptance.
Overall, the show remains a feel good, funny and enjoyable show, and the whoops of delight by the time the curtain (and the undergarments) fell proved it was a real crowd pleaser.
The Full Monty is rounding off its current tour in the theatre where it had its world premiere, so don’t miss your last chance to catch up with the boys for a while. The Full Monty is playing at Sheffield Theatres until the 15th April 2017. For information and to purchase tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk .