The Full Monty has been touring the country recently and earning rave reviews everywhere it has touched base, and we were lucky enough to see it at the New Wimbledon Theatre in London.
Simon Beaufoy’s funny and heartwarming play is set in the 1980s; the time when unemployment was at an all-time high and when Britain was mostly on strike. It is a wonderfully pieced together stage version of the BAFTA award-winning 1997 movie The Full Monty; and it certainly has more than just naked bums and ‘willys’. It is a touching and emotional look on normal life ‘up north’. Somehow, it gives an honest look into the depths that men will sink to, and the lengths they will go to in able to feed their families. Not only that, but it also approaches themes that are so relevant today as they were back then; loneliness, masculinity, loss of dignity and the depression that can surround redundancies.
Gerald (played by Andrew Dunn), who is the groups former foreman, manages to fool his wife for six months simply by putting on a suit daily, filling up his briefcase and heading off to ‘work’ – and in the meantime she is out using their credit card, booking holidays with no awareness to the seriousness of the situation.
As the famous male strip act ‘The Chippendales’ arrive in town, the group can see how their wives react, and how enthusiastic the women of the town become. All of a sudden the entrepreneurial side of the group is triggered and they decide to put on a strip show of their own – a Full Monty!
As Gaz (Gary Lucy), is threatened with court action by his wife for missed child-support payments, the need to make the night a success becomes even greater.
One of the many things that make this show a hit is the wonderful and brilliant cast. Horst, (played by the incredible Lee Emerick) turns up for auditions leaning on a crutch but is so ‘talented’ he is signed up swiftly, and Dave’s (played by Kai Owens) desperate struggle with his beer belly hits home with a lot of the audience. All of the characters are easy to connect with and it doesn’t take long to forget that you are watching a production; it feels like you are looking in on a scene of your closest friends.
All in all, this is such a good-natured show and the heart is in the right place. Robert Jones’ set of a disused, soon to be pulled down steelyard is awe-inspiring and Rupert Hill directing it has allowed for all of the pieces of the jigsaw to be put together in a seamless manner. It is a must-see; there is something in this production for everyone! And not just the ladies who will clearly ogle and stare at Gary Lucy and the rest of the cast whenever there is any hint of nudity!