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Nottingham/Touring.
THE FULL MONTY: Simon Beaufoy.
4Star****

Theatre Royal

Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 1st October.
Performance times: 7.30pm (matinées Weds 2pm, Sat 2.30pm).
Review: Alan Geary: 26th September 2016.

Highly entertaining, exhilarating, yet slightly irritating stuff.

The press night audience, mostly female, was wildly enthusiastic for this Full Monty. Quite right too; it was a highly entertaining evening. Seasoned Thatcher bashers had a lot to enjoy of course – the show started with a background excerpt from that “You turn if you have to” speech – but so did everyone else.

It’s a well-known piece of Brit Grit: out of work Sheffield steel workers, thrown on the scrapheap by the eighties collapse, form a sub-Chippendales troupe of male strippers to make a few quid. At the finish of course, the theatre audience becomes the crowd at the local working men’s club as the lads finally get to do the full monty – except for shoes and socks that is.

Dancing, especially from the likes of Horse (Louis Emerick), who has a gammy leg and walks with a stick, is actually pretty accomplished. So is the scene-changing; a realistic derelict steelworks set also functions as the street outside the club, the job centre, even the foyer of the local Conservative Club.

Fortunately, performances are excellent all round. It’s not just a matter of handling the quips and chirpy one-liners, of which there are many: each of the men emerges as a rounded individual with problems besides his joblessness.

Gaz (Gary Lucy), the ringleader, is in a custody battle over his boy Nathan (played on press night by a splendid Felix Yates), Lomper (Anthony Lewis) is a suicidal gay, Dave (Kai Owen) has a beer-belly, ex-foreman Gerald (Andrew Dunn) is the token aspirational Conservative, and so on.

Besides the fun, there’s a great deal of pathos. These men and their families are the losers in a period of profound and rapid social change. There’s also that irritating paradox present in nearly all anti-Thatcher, supposedly pro-working-class plays. At the same time as bemoaning the loss of a decent income, the men have it in for any one of their number who actually tries to better himself by getting another decent job – here it’s Gerald.

At the end of the evening, after the in-the-buff climax, there was a surprise, an exhilarating, bolt-on bonus demanding the heavy involvement of the audience.


Gaz: Gary Lucy.
Nathan: James Burton/Monty Poole/Reiss Ward/Felix Yates.
Dave: Kai Owen.
Lomper: Anthony Lewis.
Mandy: Charlotte Powell.
Barry/Terry/Interviewer: Jonathan McGarrity.
Alan/Alf/Reg/Interviewer/Policeman: William Ilkley.
Jean: Fiona Skinner.
Sharon/Job Club Employee/Michelle/Social Worker: Jess Schofield.
Linda/Bee/Annie: Pauline Fleming.
Brian/Interviewer/Policeman: Andrew Ashford.
Gerald: Andrew Dunn.
Horse: Lewis Emerick.
Guy: Chris Fountain.
Frankie: Adam Beresford.


Director: Jack Ryder.
Designer: Robert Jones.
Lighting Designer: Tim Lutkin.
Sound Designers: Ben and Max Ringham and Sarah Weltman.
Choreographer: Ian West.
 
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