Full Monty at The Orchard Theatre

The Full Monty at the Orchard Theatre

The story of the Full Monty is a well known one thanks to the 1997 film. The play (not to be confused with the musical which is set in America), like the film tells of a group of unemployed Steel workers in Sheffield. Lead by Gaz who sees how much the Chippendales make he forms his own strip troupe made up of some unlikely characters. The Full Monty play is actually written by Simon Beafoy and based on his own original screenplay. The result is a humorous play which stays true to the original film and scored them a 2013 win of the What on Stage awards for Best Touring Production.

The cast are led by Gary Lucy as Gaz who gets a cheer before he even opens his mouth. Gary Lucy plays the role well with a nice combination of Jack the lad and a dad with his heart in the right place. It is the moments that we see him on stage with his son Nathan, played by Reiss Ward in this production, that you really get to what this show is about, family and friendship. Gary Lucy has the ability to play all sides of the character well, leaving you on his side, despite his minor misdemeanours. My only quibble with Gary Lucy is that having played the heart-throb roles on TV he wouldn’t have been amiss in the Chippendales themselves. The audience has to suspend their disbelief and think of him as slightly more rough round the edges than he actually is. That being said the screaming patrons certainly seemed to approve of this casting decision!

Kai Owens who plays Dave captures his spirit perfectly. He is the character of the 6 I really felt for with his on-going struggle with his body image. The balance he struck between comedy and care over this issue was well executed and meant that when you were laughing you were laughing along with him.

The rest of troupe is made up of Andrew Dunn as Gerald, Louis Emerick as Horse, Chris Fountain as Guy and Anthony Lewis as Lomper. They were equally as strong, each with a strong sense of individuality and the friendship between them was touching. One criticism would be that a combination of the Sheffield accent, diction and general volume meant I was often straining to understand or hear all of the dialogue.

Full MontyThe show, like the film, does take a while to get going and the idea of the strip group isn’t mooted until half way through Act 1. The shows high points come from these 6 very different men thrown together and the relationships between them, depicting everything from humour to friendship.  This doesn’t really start to be developed until Act 2 and as a result Act 2 is far more enjoyable than the first Act. The scene in the job centre is imitated nicely, leaving the audience howling with laughter. The piece de resistance however is of course the guys performance at the club, with a very alert lighting operator ready for the final moment. The final routine is executed very well, with their deadpan faces making it all the funnier. By this time you really feel as if you know the 6 of them and are rooting for the routine to go well.

The set was nicely designed with 2 levels mostly contracted out of corrugated iron. This becomes everything from the old steel works factory to the Conservative club with only a minimal furniture change or lighting state change to denote the different locations. It serves the play well as not only is multi use but echoes the feel of a run down Sheffield in Thatcher’s Britain.

The Full Monty is a show which lives by the motto if it ain’t broke don’t fix it so whilst not hugely original the films humour, and therefore the plays humour remains as funny now as it was then. Combine this with the ever present human element in the Full Monty then this certainty falls into the ‘ain’t broke’ category. If you are a fan of the film then I urge you to see this show. It retains all the humour of the film whilst enabling you to see this story unfold live in front of you.

I saw the Full Monty at the Orchard Theatre where it is on until 18th February and then continues its tour until the 15th April 2017.

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