The Full Monty

Gary Lucy, Louis Emerick, Kai Owen, Andrew Dunn, Anthony Lewis and Chris Fountain in The Full Monty. Picture: Matt Crockett

The Full Monty: Bournemouth Pavilion - 22nd September, 2016.

They might invite you to keep your hat on but this show is guaranteed to blow your socks off. The Full Monty worked a treat on the big screen. Now nearly 20 years after it catapulted its writer, Bournemouth Arts University graduate Simon Beaufoy, to fame he has adapted his cinema sensation for the stage.

The story of six redundant Sheffield steelworkers desperately trying to recover their pride (and lost earnings) by turning themselves into a Chippendale style male strip troupe could have dated badly.

It succeeds because, at its core, this story deals with universal problems that so often come with recession and unemployment - loss of status, lack of self esteem and the breakdown of relationships. In this case there is the added poignancy of a custody battle. Such problems are as real now as they were during the final days of the Thatcher regime.

But The Full Monty is certainly not all doom and gloom. The show celebrates the kind of spirit, humour, resilience and comradeship that can heal the hurt and make life good again. 

With a wonderful cast led by Gary Lucas as likely lad Gaz, this play is both bittersweet and riotously funny. These strippers are not ever going to be super-ripped, fantasy-packaged beefcake. They’re just ordinary blokes with varying physiques and accompanying insecurities. They’re funny and they’re brave. Which is why this show, directed by Jack Ryder best known as Jamie Mitchell in EastEnders works, so well. It’s beautifully written, has a talented cast, including Andrew Dunn from Dinner Ladies and Chris Fountain from Coronation Street, and a great set.

There’s also the highly effective soundtrack including numbers by Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate, James Brown and of course Tom Jones.

My only criticism of this opening week of the 2016 UK tour was  the slightly murky sound which marred the early part of the evening. 

The 80 per cent female audience didn’t seem to mind though. They loved Sheffield’s ‘Bums of Steel’, howling with laughter as they did their sexy thing and applauded wildly with a standing ovation as they went for the full monty.

*The Full Monty is at Bournemouth Pavilion until Saturday 24th September.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022