Review - The Full Monty (UK Tour)

Fans of the 1997 cult hit rejoice! Screenwriter Steven Beaufoy's stage adaptation of The Full Monty is just as riotous and racy as its film counterpart, with plenty of gags and an uplifting ending that will have audiences cheering and whooping in their seats!

The cast of The Full Monty
Photo credit - Matt Crockett
For those who are somehow unfamiliar with the critically lauded film, set in post-industrial Sheffield, The Full Monty tells the story of six out of work men who decide to form a striptease act as a way to make money. The idea is the brainchild of Gaz, an ex-steelworker struggling to  pay child support, who ropes in his best friend Dave, a former crane operator, and his young son Nathan, and together the trio recruit a ragtag group of down on their luck gents to complete the Chippendale-esque line-up.

The story lives or dies on the believability of the bond between its ensemble cast, and thankfully The Full Monty tour is cast excellently. The fellowship of the characters is reflected in the brilliantly believable chemistry between the actors, who work together very well, and manage to avoid falling into the trap of just impersonating the iconic performances of their onscreen counterparts. While hardly a dead ringer for Robert Carlyle, Gary Lucy, star of soaps such as Hollyoaks, Eastenders and The Bill is charmingly scrappy as Gaz, while Kai Owen is dynamic and convincing as Dave, who has his relationship and body confidence issues. The pair's bromance is extremely true to life, and it's refreshing to see such a heartfelt friendship portrayed on stage. 

The rest of the cast is just as brilliant, with Andrew Dunn's pitiable straight man Gerald getting plenty of sympathy as well as his fair share of chuckles, and Louis Emerick giving a downplayed but hilarious performance as Horse, meanwhile Anthony Lewis is thoroughly endearing as suicidal security guard Lomper and Chris Fountain is a great final addition to the line-up as confidant and well-endowed Guy. The group bare all, both literally and figuratively, as not only does The Full Monty tell the story of a group of wannabe strippers, it also touches on some enduringly pertinent issues such as homosexuality, depression, suicide, worker's rights, and body image. Despite the frivolity of the main story, the undercurrent of bleakness and insecurity which marred the late 1980s is very much apparent. Despite this The Full Monty is first and foremost a cheeky but never lascivious feel good story with tons of laughs and buckets of heart. 

There's a unique and irresistible nostalgia elicited from plays like The Full Monty, set at a time when life was incredibly rough for a large number of people, and featuring a bunch of normal folks from working class backgrounds who band together to make the best of a bad situation. This has been played out time and time again, with another similar notable example being Billy Elliot which achieved widespread success at the cinema and in the theatre too. But the sense of community portrayed in shows like Billy Elliot, The Full Monty and many other stories, is timeless. 

In this day and age, when the country seems divided yet again, The Full Monty is a great reflection of the solidarity which people can almost always rely on in times of need, making a tour of this particular show timely indeed. The play doesn't really bring anything new to the table, so fans of the film should adjust their expectations accordingly, but it is great fun nonetheless, and with plenty of cheekiness dispersed throughout, it has its fair share of fresh laughs and a big finish which does not disappoint! Hot stuff indeed...