I can say with complete honesty that I am not here on the opening night of The Full Monty, thrilled by the prospect of seeing naked men parade around the stage. As someone putting the L in LGBT it holds zero appeal. I’m here for the endearing storyline and nothing else.
Undoubtedly, I am in the minority tonight at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal. My accompanying friend is practically gleeful about that aspect of the show as we take our seats. She’s in good company. Looking around the theatre, a good 98% (don’t quote me on that) of the audience are very happy looking women. The stalls are buzzing with anticipation and excited chatter.
Set against the backdrop of the Steel City in the mid-nineties, The Full Monty is the story of working-class Gaz and his friends as they find themselves in dire straits. The lasting impact of Margaret Thatcher’s reign has left them unemployed and penniless. Spoiler alert: this production is not conservative-friendly.
When the curtain lifts and Gaz (former Hollyoaks heartthrob Gary Lucy) makes his way onto the stage there are whoops and cheers abound from the audience. A few minutes in you can see why he received such a warm welcome. Lucy has an undeniable presence as he swaggers around the stage, fully embodying the cheeky northern lad persona, convincing Sheffield accent and all.
Gaz, along with best mate Dave (Kai Owen) and his disapproving but loyal son Nathan (Fraser Kelly) visit the factory where he used to work, looking for steel girders to “liberate” and sell down at the scrap yard. Times are hard and they must do what they can to survive – this illicit activity is apparently preferable to being a security guard at Asda or a shelf stacker at Morrisons.
Everything changes when Gaz’s ex-wife threatens him with a court order over missing child maintenance payments. At an all time low, Gaz along with his friends and former colleagues down at the job club are pessimistic about their futures.
Down on morale and money, they need a miracle to lift their spirits again. Or maybe, just one really good idea, and one night to pull it off. You can guess the rest.
However, The Full Monty is about so much more than a couple of blokes getting their kits off. At its heart it’s an uplifting show about regular people, made to appeal to regular people. And it does. Though the subject matter is well over 20 years old, The Full Monty tackles many issues that are still relevant today including unemployment, sexuality, mental health and poverty.
Those who loved the 1997 film version will not be disappointed as this production directed by Simon Beaufoy is loyal to the big screen version. As in the film, the cast here have perfect comic timing, raising laugh after laugh from the audience. Fans of 80s era music will also appreciate the soundtrack with hits from The Cure, Public Image Limited and Dexy’s Midnight Runners that will have you tapping your feet between set changes.
The real question on everyone’s lips is sure to be: do the cast actually go The Full Monty?
Well, you’ll have to buy a ticket to find out if they truly do leave their hats on. All I’ll say is that it’s cheeky, lewd and definitely a bit rude.
Review by Laura Somers
The Full Monty is at Nottingham Theatre Royal Feb 4th-9th. Tickets available from £17 at TRCH.co.uk