The Full Monty
Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 9 February
A highly exhilarating evening!
The press night audience, for some reason majority female, was wildly enthusiastic for this Full Monty. Quite right too; it was a highly exhilarating evening with a lot to enjoy.
It’s an established piece of Brit Grit: redundant 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.
Dancing, especially from the likes of Horse (Louis Emerick), who has an arthritic hip and walks with a stick, is (knock-about) accomplished – and the soundtrack is great. So is scene-changing: a derelict steelworks also functions as the job centre, the foyer of the local Conservative Club, the street outside the working men’s club, and of course, at the end, its stage.
Save for most of the female parts, which are over-crude and over-raucous, performances are excellent. It’s not just a matter of handling the chirpy quips and one-liners, of which there are many: each of the men emerges as a differentiated individual with problems compounding the joblessness.
Each in his own way is vulnerable. Gaz (Gary Lucy), the ringleader, is in a custody battle over his boy Nathan (played on press night by a splendid Nathan Zammit), Lomper (Joe Gill) is a suicidal gay, Dave (Kai Owen) has a beer-belly, ex-foreman Gerald (Andrew Dunn), the token aspirational Conservative, is henpecked by a snobbish wife. And besides the fun, there’s a ton of pathos. These men and their families are losers in a period of profound and rapid societal change.
There’s also that natural paradox present in most Thatcher-bashing plays. At the same time as bemoaning the loss of status and income, the men have it in for any one of their number who tries to better himself by getting another decent job. Arguably they’re party to a subversive attack on bourgeois respectability.
At the end of a highly exhilarating evening, after the in-the-buff climax, some of the audience stood to applaud.
Gaz: Gary Lucy
Gerald: Andrew Dunn
Horse: Louis Emmerick
Lumper: Joe Gill
Dave: Kai Owen
Guy: James Redmond
Alan/Alf/Reg/Interviewer/Policeman: Andrew Ashford
Jean: Liz Carney
Barry/Terry/Interviewer: Stephen Donald
Sharon/Michelle/JC Employee/Social Worker: Keeley Fitzgerald
Phil/Policeman: Alex Frost
Nathan: Fraser Kelly
Linda/Bee/Annie: Bryonie Pritchard
Mandy: Amy Thompson
Brian/Interviewer/Policeman: Lee Toomes
Alternate Nathan: Nathan Zammit
Director: Rupert Hill
Designer: Robert Jones
Lighting Designer: Colin Grenfell
Sound Designer: Luke Swaffield
Choreographer: Ian West
Music Consultant Steve Parry