There are various origin myths regarding the phrase “the full monty”. One is that Field Marshall Montgomery “Monty” used to like a full English breakfast every morning. Another is that after the war, the tailor Montague “Monty” Burton used to supply demobbed servicemen with a suit, a shirt, a tie and a hat. Or in the case of Simon Beaufoy’s play, it means a man stripping off all of his clothes and displaying his full monty.
Originally an award-winning movie from 1997, Beaufoy adapted his screenplay and the play was first produced in Sheffield in 2013 before transferring to the West End at the Noël Coward Theatre in 2014 and it’s been on tour almost constantly ever since.
The Full Monty tells the story of six unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who unable to find a job, and desperate for money, decide that having seen the success of The Chippendales male stripping dance troupe, decide to put together their own act that will go one step further than The Chippendales and take off everything, revealing their “full monty”.
Along the way, their stories touch on unemployment, depression, impotence, body image, repressed homosexuality, working-class culture and suicide. The problem with the stage version of the story is that it touches on these stories so lightly that they’re almost non-existent and the pathos of the original movie is totally lost in the drive to get to the money shot at the end.
To say The Full Monty is broad would be a total understatement. The story is told at a hundred miles an hour in broad brush strokes, a broad acting style and broad Yorkshire accents that at times are completely unintelligible and a lot of the dialogue gets lost which is a shame as there are some funny lines which go down a storm – one about knockers and knobs almost brought the house down.
The cast of fifteen who are mainly from TV shows such as Eastenders, Dinnerladies, Brookside, Hollyoaks and Dancing on Ice, are there to put bums on seats (and in some cases bare their own) and are instantly recognisable by the large Wimbledon audience who whooped and hollered at their entrances (pun intended).
And talking of the audience, I’ve never been to an evening of male stripping or a hen night (why would I?) but last night I felt I was at such an event as the audience was at least 85% female out for a bit of fun at their local social club (or in this case, theatre), looking forward to some male nudity; at times I felt I was at the Colosseum in Rome watching some poor souls being thrown to the lions although Wimbledon was probably a lot more raucous!
So, whilst this wasn’t the most enjoyable time I’ve had in the theatre, some shows are critic proof and The Full Monty is one of them. At times it was like an adult panto with the audience calling out to the actors, knowing winks from the cast to the audience and lots of noise but in truth, everyone seemed to be having a ball – both on and off the stage.
As for the money shot, if you do go expecting to see the full monty, it’s literally all over in a flash!
Review by Alan Fitter
Based on his smash hit film and adapted for the stage by Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy, this hilarious and heartfelt production has received standing ovations every night and features the iconic songs from the film by Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones.
Starring Gary Lucy (Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Footballers Wives), Andrew Dunn ( Dinnerladies), Louis Emerick (Brookside, Benidorm and Coronation Street), Joe Gill (Emmerdale), Kai Owen (Torchwood, Hollyoaks) and James Redmond (Hollyoaks and Casualty), this hilarious and heartfelt production has received standing ovations every night.
New Wimbledon Theatre
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG, UK
Booking to 4th May 2019