The Full Monty

October 25, 2016 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆  Appealing

King’s Theatre: Mon 17 – Sat 22 Oct 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Cheeky and rollicking, the touring production of The Full Monty also has its share of pathos and politics, and is a satisfying affair.

Simon Beaufoy’s 2013 play adapts his own screenplay from the astonishingly successful 1997 film (at one point the highest grossing ever in the UK) about a group of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who form a striptease act.

Louis Emerick, Andrew Dunn, Kai Owen, Gary Lucy, Chris Fountain and Anthony Lewis. Photo: Matt Crockett

Louis Emerick, Andrew Dunn, Kai Owen, Gary Lucy, Chris Fountain and Anthony Lewis. Photo: Matt Crockett

Adapting such a popular work, with several memorable scenes, is fraught with danger. But Beaufoy has done it effectively, altering structure and events to make it more theatrical yet keeping the flow of the narrative intact.

The result could be tauter – there is a cast of 14, with several in multiple roles – but will satisfy any fans of the original, and it all bowls along merrily. While the climactic dance routine is well handled, and thoroughly appreciated by a large, vocal and mysteriously female-heavy audience, the story is not really about stripping.

Instead, the (distinctly broad and certainly adult) humour disguises some darkly political points about masculinity, sexuality and the destruction of traditional working-class communities.

If some of the attitudes towards employment, sexual orientation and gender might seem old-fashioned to a 21st century audience, there is enough that is current to have considerable force. Jack Ryder’s direction, aided greatly by Robert Jones’s imposing, versatile split-level set, achieves a great degree of dramatic and comic momentum, making it impossible to avoid being drawn in.

humour and melancholy

The cast, as is usual in such a big touring production, is made up of a selection of familiar TV faces. If they do not all manage to escape the shadow cast by the original film actors, they at least have a decent stab at it.

Gary Lucy, veteran of several soaps, is ringleader Gaz, while Kai (Torchwood) Owen is his friend Dave. Their accents occasionally suggest they have only recently moved to Sheffield, but there is a plausibility to their performances, with Lucy’s ageing jack-the-lad contrasting well with Owen’s delicate combination of humour and melancholy.

Andrew Dunn, Kai Owen, Chris Fountain (back), Antony Lewis, Louis Emerick and Gary Lucy. Photo: Matt Crockett

Andrew Dunn, Kai Owen, Chris Fountain (back), Antony Lewis, Louis Emerick and Gary Lucy. Photo: Matt Crockett

A similar balance is struck by Anthony Lewis as Lomper, the suicidal security guard who joins the dance troupe; Chris Fountain, best known from Hollyoaks, provides a scene-stealing performance as Guy.

Andrew Dunn, fondly remembered from Dinnerladies, plays Gerald, the former foreman who has never told his wife he has lost his job. He is a character who can be laughed at for his snobbery but can still be sympathetic, and Dunn achieves this superbly. Louis Emerick, who played Mick Johnson in Brookside for more than a decade, also provides a winning mixture of humour and wounded pride as dancer Horse.

The rest of the cast do not get as much opportunity to shine – with some fleeting, less carefully drawn characters that betray the piece’s cinematic origins – but William Ilkley has a couple of effective cameos and Fiona Skinner impresses as Dave’s wife Jean. Felix Yates – one of four young performers who play Gaz’s son Nathan – is hugely impressive.

In true striptease style, there is a great deal of teasing before the final performance, but it does not disappoint when it arrives, and the journey there is always of interest.

Although the length of the play’s West End run was a comparative disappointment, it is easy to see why it is so successful as a touring production. This should not just be seen as a draw for hen parties, however, as it has a broad appeal.

Running time 2 hours 15 minutes (including one interval)
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ.
Monday 24 – Saturday 29 October 2016
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinees Wed, Sat: 2.30pm.
Details and tickets from: http://www.edtheatres.com/fullmonty

Buy the original movie and soundtrack on Amazon:

 

The Full Monty on tour 2016:
24 – 29 Oct Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
31 Oct – 5 Nov Manchester
Opera House
0844 871 3018 Book online
07 – 12 Nov Liverpool
Empire Theatre
0844 871 3017 Book online
14 – 19 Nov Birmingham
Hippodrome
0844 338 5000 Book online
21 – 26 Nov Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
28 Nov – 03 Dec Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
Tour continues in 2017:
16 – 21 Jan Northampton
Royal & Derngate
01604 624811 Book online
23 – 28 Jan Cambridge
Arts Theatre
01223 503333 Book online
30 Jan – 04 Feb Belfast
Grand Opera House
028 9024 1919 Book online
06 – 11 Feb Shrewsbury
Theatre Severn
01743 281281 Book online
13 – 18 Feb Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000 Book online
20 – 25 Feb Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre
0122 778 7787 Book online
27 Feb – 04 Mar Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
06 – 11 Mar Leicester
De Montfort Hall
0116 233 3111 Book online
13 – 18 Mar Bradford
Alhambra
01274 432000 Book online
20 – 25 Mar Sunderland
Empire Theatre
0844 871 3022 Book online
27 Mar – 01 Apr Llandudno
venue Cymru
01492 872000 Book online
03 – 15 Apr Sheffield
Lyceum
0114 249 6000 Book online

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