Simon Beaufoy’s fresh and funny new version of The Full Monty is a full on theatrical delight. We are not just talking of the male strippers finale (although that is done with tangible expectation and rapturous applause from the ladies in the audience) but, the wry Yorkshire comedy and innate drama of men whose families and lives are deeply challenged by redundancy and the wholesale destruction in the 1980s of a major industry employing thousands.
a full on theatrical delight
Robert Jones’s enormous set of a shattered interior of part of a former steel mill serves as various venues throughout the play that are brought to life through sliding panels, swift replacing of prop furniture and acute lighting changes designed by lighting designer Tim Lutkin. It all works terrifically well and the constancy of the two level larger set portions with a hanging crane and shattered windows serves as a potent symbol of shattered lives from an era that supposed a job for life.
Jack Ryder directs a superb cast in this touring production whose script stays very close to the popular film ( also penned by Simon Beaufoy). The Donna Summer dance in the dole office gets a special round of applause of its own and the acting standards from all of the cast is especially high.
For this reviewer the star of the show this evening is little Felix Yates who plays Gaz’s son Nathan in tonight’s production. Everything about his performance is very natural. His voice is nice and clear and he is hilarious as he berates his dad towards the latter part of the play. In total four boys play Nathan throughout the run. This is Yates’ third go in this tour at playing Nathan and it is a very confident performance indeed.
The ladies in the cast, Charlotte Powell (Mandy), Fiona Skinner (Jean), Jess Schofield (Sharon and various roles), Pauline Fleming (Linda/Bee/Annie) all perform superbly in their roles bringing Yorkshire pragmatism, wit, bawdiness, love and stark realism to their on stage relationships.
Gary Lucy oozes confidence tinged with unexpected vulnerability in his role as distant dad Gaz. Andrew Dunn is spot on as Gerald who is trying to keep his jobless status a secret from his wife. Louis Emerick shows off his moves in another vulnerable male role as Horse and Chris Fountain’s character Guy has a few storyline surprises up his sleeve and down his knickers. Anthony Lewis as suicidal and depressed Lomper shows great sensitivity in the role and the audience sympathise with his journey as he gains new friends and new self knowledge. Kai Owen as tubby confidence battered Dave is particularly good in his comic scenes as well as the ones of a more exposed (no pun suggested) nature. The dry Yorkshire humour is well done by all. Four other actors, Andrew Ashford, Adam Beresford, William Ilkley and Jonathan McGarrity all contribute greatly to the show bringing in a range of very credible outside characters.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the original film and is just coming to see The Full Monty as a play they won’t be disappointed because it works very well on stage and allows the audience to use their imagination as the action goes quickly from scene to scene. Because of the actual immediacy of the actors on stage we feel that the bond between audience and player is genuinely strengthened. Film has its strengths but the theatre can be stronger if the acting and writing combine to make such an emotional experience as this play. There is the familiarity of the accent from just up the road Sheffield and a strong connection of families that worked in industry in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire and suffered the consequences as the mining and steel industries were brutally torn apart by politics. And on a lighter note…
Oh yes and then there is that final Bums of Steel male strippers scene! It is gloriously and spectacularly done and a fine end to the show. The ladies on the front rows were beside themselves with joy. Can’t imagine why.
Get yersen some tickets today and you won’t be disappointed. Your face may ache from grinning too much but that will wear off in a few weeks you certainly won’t ever forget your The Full Monty experience.
Runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 1 Oct
Reviewer: Phil Lowe