Sheffield, once the home of steelmaking in the UK has now become synonymous with one of the greatest British films of the late 1990s. The BAFTA award-winning film, which was turned into a musical and then a play and is currently wowing the crowds at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. Yes, keep your hat on, The Full Monty is in town.
In an old, abandoned steel mill, unemployed dad Gaz (Gary Lucy) and his mate Dave (Martin Miller) have hit upon a way of raising some much needed funds. With the help of Gaz’s son Nate, they have broken in and are planning to take a steel girder out and down the scrappy. Given that this pair really are the Laurel and Hardy of crime, it all goes completely wrong and they are found by Gaz’s estranged wife Mandy (Rachel Finnegan) who takes Nate away and warns Gaz that if he doesn’t grow up and act like a father, she would get his visitation rights revoked. Later a despondent Gaz and Barry are outside the local working men’s club – which for one night has been re-classified as a working women’s club – where the noise is loud and raucous and the hormones are running rampant as male strip group The Chippendales strut their stuff on the stage. Initially outraged – Gaz is a very old fashioned type of man – he realises that this could be the way to make a lot of money in a very short space of time. Dragging Dave along with him, Gaz sets about recruiting Sheffield’s own answer to The Chippendales and, soon assembles his crew. There is Gerald (Andrew Dunn), former factory foreman whose life is amazingly complicated because of his love for his wife. Then there is Horse (Louise Emerick) – a man who demonstrates just how cruel kids can be in their choice of nickname – and depressed factory security guard Lomper (Bobby Schofield) a man with a terrifying secret and an invalid mother. Finally, we have Guy (Rupert Hill) out and proud and, apparently a bloke that could easily double for a tripod if required. We follow the boys as they prepare for their debut performance, with the unanswered question hanging over them – will they do The Full Monty?
Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from his original screenplay, The Full Monty is Fun with a capital F from the opening as the boys break into the old factory until the very final scene. With the exception of a couple of dodgy Yorkshire accents, I can honestly say this was a perfect night at the theatre for both myself and my companion, and going by the happy faces and animated talking around us as we left, we weren’t the only ones thinking that way.
So let’s see what made it so good. Well apart from the writing, which we shall come to in a moment, the set by Designer Robert Jones was really superbly detailed – as good as you would see in any West End show – and really added to the feel of the play. This factory, with its temperamental overhead crane – affectionately named after a former PM – was the centre of life for these characters and everyone in the play for a long time and then it was taken away, leaving some of them drifting aimlessly through life unsure of what to do next. Turning to the story, if you have seen the movie then you will not be disappointed by the play. All of the iconic moments – such as the job centre queue – are there but Simon has been able to go more in-depth with the characters writing giving the audience some real insight into these six men’s lives. There is a really lovely scene between Lompar and Guy that is both moving and touching and congratulations to Bobby and Rupert for the way they play it which feels extremely real and left me wishing all the best for the two of them.
And speaking of actors, the casting throughout is superb. I’ve always loved Andrew Dunn since Dinnerladies but he is really great as the fussy, proud, and in the smelly stuff above his head, Gerald who starts off thinking he is so much better than the other lads but ends up finding out what true friendship is. Horse, is an intriguing character and Louis Emerick brings him to life beautifully as he joins the group – despite his age, dodgy hip and lack of something – and throws himself into rehearsals. Similarly Martin Miller’s Dave with all his insecurities and body issues is wonderful to watch. At times you just want to rush on stage, give him a big hug and tell him everything is going to be OK. The relationship between Martin’s Dave and Gary Lucy’s Gaz is a delight to see – talk about a comedy pairing made in heaven – these two really look and sound as if they have been working and playing together for most of their lives and Gary ensures that Gaz is the ultimate in loveable rogues. Looking at the six actors, it is so obvious that they are having the time of their lives and enjoying every moment of being on that stage together.
I think it’s safe to assume from the above that I really enjoyed The Full Monty. It really is a tremendous show that is entertaining from the start. I see a lot of theatre but I have to say this was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. Well written, superbly acted by an outstanding cast that want the audience to enjoy themselves as much as they are, The Full Monty really delivers a superb theatrical experience that leaves you with a massive grin on your face as you leave the theatre and face the real world with the words of ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ running through your head on the journey home. Awesome.
Review by Terry Eastham
In 1997, a British film about six out of work Sheffield steelworkers with nothing to lose, took the world by storm!
Now, they’re back and this time they really have to go The Full Monty…live on stage.
Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar winning writer of the film, has gone all the way with this hilarious and heartfelt adaptation that’s getting standing ovations every night.
With songs from the film by Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones, this award-winning production is one huge package of laughs and emotion direct from London’s West End starring Gary Lucy, Andrew Dunn, Louis Emerick, Rupert Hill, Martin Miller and Bobby Schofield.
This Sheffield Theatres production is presented by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, the multi award-winning producers of ART, Brief Encounter and Calendar Girls.
Not suitable for polite children under 12
The Churchill Theatre Bromley
London, BR1 1HA
19th to 24th October 2015