More than just willy gags and a striptease, The Full Monty is a hilariously funny, witty and surprisingly relevant and touching play, expertly staged and exceptional acted. Let’s hope the ‘Last Tour’ tagline is just clever marketing and Gary Lucy and co. might make the rumoured Cheltenham comeback to the Everyman Theatre’s stage.
‘I’m not sure how I feel about you going to see The Full Monty,’ my husband joked. Well, I interpreted his concerns as a joke and laughed. And laughed. And laughed, all the way to my seat in the Everyman Theatre stalls – ready for an evening of light entertainment, cheeky gags and Gary Lucy in his pants.
But, it turns out I’d underestimated the play and while there were plenty of bums and undergarments on show, The Full Monty tour was a far more hilarious, impressively-acted, relevant and poignant experience than I had expected.
Unsurprisingly, The Full Monty audience was around 95 per cent female, and like me, I’d guess most had seen and enjoyed the 1997 film starring Robert Carlyle. I remembered the gist of the BAFTA-winning film (unemployed steelworkers, dodgy dance moves in a dole queue, ‘Hot Chocolate’) but none of the punchlines, and was pleased the storyline had been translated so well to the stage, with the key moments, characters and hit songs all present and correct.
Set in Sheffield, small screen favourite Gary Lucy – who’s sheer presence on stage elicited excited screams from the audience – plays the main character Gaz, a cocksure and swaggering likely lad (complete with convincing northern accent) who decides to form a band of male strippers to make some easy cash and drags some unlikely accomplices along for the ride.
There’s Dave, his chubby, comedic and more likeable best mate, impressively played by another TV regular, Kai Owen; and Gaz’s son Nathan played astoundingly well by 16-year-old Fraser Kelly. Guy, a well-endowed, gay plasterer given a sensitive portrayal by James Redmond; stuffy former-foreman Gerald, played by Andrew Dunn, who teaches the improbable strippers dance moves learnt from his time on the Conservative Club ballroom. Joe Gill plays tragic Lomper, a suicidal and in the closet loser, who finds confidence and friends; while Louis Emerick plays arthritic-hipped and ironically-named Horse, a role he’s played on staged for a number of years – which showed through his confident, charismatic and absolutely entertaining stage presence.
Okay, I know the question on everyone’s lips. I know because in the 24 hours it took to write this review, I’ve been asked it over and over again – in the playground dropping my kids of at school, over the freezer at the supermarket and round the kettle in the office. ‘So, do the cast of The Full Monty, erm, go the FULL monty?’ It’s a question you really have to pay the ticket-price to find out, but judging by the standing ovation from every single audience member at The Everyman, the finale provides a big reveal that doesn’t disappoint.
Ridiculously fun, endlessly cheeky, with enough bare skin to satiate the throngs of screaming women, The Full Monty pulled in the Cheltenham crowds and left them wanting more when it began its national ‘Last Tour’ at the Everyman Theatre.
The producer David Pugh said he’d never been allowed to bring the show to Cheltenham before now and hinted that as ticket sales and enthusiasm had been so strong, he’d be keen to bring the show back to Gloucestershire – perhaps even ending the current tour where is began. It’s unconfirmed, at the moment, but not ruled out. Would we be buying tickets for The Full Monty again? Chuffing right.
Far more than a cheap thrill, The Full Monty tackles tough subjects more relevant today than ever before: poverty, unemployment, sexuality, body image, mental health. A rough, industrial, disused factory backdrop was used throughout. While a blaring, iconic soundtrack ranging from Bowie and The Cure to Joy Division gave the whole production an edgy, modern feel. With on-stage swearing, smoking and (in one particularly funny scene, featuring the impressive female cast) urinating, dissolving any hints of sentimental cheesiness.
‘Keep your knickers on!’ It’s the first line you’ll hear booming from backstage. But despite the advice, The Full Monty cast has had more than a few pairs of pants thrown at it. A big pink bra was also flung onto The Everyman’s stage on the opening night, apparently!
To book tickets call the Everyman Theatre on (01242) 572573, or visit everymantheatre.org.uk directly.
By Michelle Fyrne
Friday 14 September 2018
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