The Full Monty

"The Full Monty" is a play written by Simon Beaufoy, based on his successful 1997 film of the same name. Set in the economically depressed town of Sheffield, England, the play follows a group of unemployed steelworkers who, desperate for income, decide to form a male strip group for one night only. Struggling with issues of masculinity, unemployment, and self-esteem, the characters embark on this unconventional venture to regain a sense of purpose and dignity. As they navigate the challenges of preparing for a strip show, the play explores themes of friendship, identity, and societal expectations. With humour and heart, "The Full Monty" addresses serious issues while celebrating the resilience and camaraderie of its characters.

The cast for this touring production are every inch the stars of the show.  Each one bringing a warm, funny and heartwarming portrayal of a group of men each with their own issues.  Best friends Gaz (Danny Hatchard) and Dave (Neil Hurst) work extremely well together. Hatchard is the frustrated father of Nathan, played with such confidence by Rowan Poulton, who wants nothing more than to spend time with his son, however his recent unemployment has left him unable to provide, so he masterminds a group of male strippers to perform at the local club, promising to offer ‘The Full Monty’.  Hurst as Dave is perfectly cast.  His Northern wit and charm make him a loveable character with many funny one liners and fantastic comic timing.

Completing the newly formed ‘Bums of Steel’ is Lomper (Nicholas Prasad), Horse (Ben Onwukwe), Guy (Jake Quickenden) and Gerald (Bill Ward).  There is so much witty repartee between the group, however this is also mixed with many more tender moments, including Lomper trying to take his own life, Horse explaining the reasoning behind his nickname (which might not be what you think!), Guy trying to move on with his life after loosing his partner to AIDS and Gerald who has been lying to his wife about still having a job.  Each of these stories intertwine so well together and are so relatable to the times we live in now.  In a world where men still struggle to talk to each other about their problems, it's refreshing for these moments to be played out on stage and attempting to normalise these emotions.

The staging by Jasmine Swan has an industrial feel, depicting the Sheffield landscape of the time. The large metal structure serves well to take us to many places throughout the show and is moved around by the cast with its own choreography, whilst many classic pop tunes blast out, including M People’s ‘One Night In Heaven’ and Chumbawamba’s ‘Tubthumping’.

It’s safe to say that if you’ve seen the film, then you are very familiar with the closing scene, the big performance of ‘The Full Monty’.  It feels as though there is an air of tension throughout the evening, which I may add is 80% female, until we reach this big moment.  The audience is encouraged to cheer along to this routine, which never fails to bring the house down, and its clear that the cast are loving the adoration throughout. 

One thing to note, and to commend the production for is the safety and dignity of the actors during this scene.  We are told prior to the show that anyone taking photographs will be asked to leave and may face legal proceedings, and it was apparent that extra security personnel were brought in.  Some may say that’s unfair to paint all audiences in the same light of being disruptive, but unfortunately it seems more necessary than ever now.

The Full Monty really is a fantastic night out at the theatre.  The clothes come off, but the laughs stay firmly on the stage!

This show was reviewed on the 30th January 2024.  The Full Monty runs at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham until the 3rd February 2024.  Tickets available here: The Full Monty - The Play by Simon Beaufoy Tickets | The Alexandra, Birmingham in Birmingham | ATG Tickets

Full tour details are here: The Full Monty (fullmontytheplay.com)

Review written by Emma Rowley

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Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz

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