There was an air oestrogen smothered excitement that enveloped this packed out New Victoria Theatre for the opening night of The Full Monty.
Based on the smash-hit 1997 film, Stephen Beaufoy’s adaptation leads the audience through the trials and tribulations of a group of working class men, on the dole and looking to make a quick buck as wannabe strippers!
Set against a backdrop of the once successful steel works, this production packs a good visual punch throughout with impressive set, effects and a soundtrack fizzing with memories and emotion.
For a story that is so well known and approaching 20 years old, the themes resonate strongly, particularly the underlying tension of the post-Thatcher era still ringing in the ears of the British public. It was a startling reminder and realisation of how far we haven’t come. Hard working families are struggling to stay afloat and it is this message that carries the audience from start to finish.
The relationship between Gaz (Gary Lucy) and his opinionated young son Nathan (Raif Clarke) is believable and honest and provides enough heart and realism to stop this production being just a comedy for just the female members of the audience. It is a coming of age performance for Lucy who retains enoughcheeky charm and from his pin-up persona for the audience to really warm towards Gaz and get on his side.
The first half felt a touch long and really stepped up a gear with the arrival of Horse, played by Louis Emerick, whose energy helped bring act one to a climactic end. Bobby Schofield shone as sexually confused Lomper who really grew alongside Rupert Hill’s Guy and the other men in his stripping troupe.
Andrew Dunn brought strength and maturity to the cast as choreographer Gerald and there were cheers aplenty for Dave (Martin Miller) as he overcame his fears and took to the stage. The strong lead cast were well supported by a talented ensemble that moved seamlessly from role to role and special praisefor young Raif Clarke who shone as Nathan. Bold, bolshie and boisterous he was the perfect foil for his father’s self-doubt.
This quality production was focused, played to its strengths and took the audience on a journey and rewarded them with a high-energy finale which gave more than a few of the audience an eye-full they won’t forget in a hurry! If they tightened up the first half, which will come as the run continues, The Full Monty on stage looks set to rival the film for popularity and longevity.
Review by Andy Edmeads
Cast includes: Gary Lucy, Andrew Dunn, Louis Emerick, Rupert Hill, Martin Miller, Bobby Schofield, Liz Carney, Stephen Donald, Phillip Knight, David MacCreedy, Andy McSorley, Laura Mould, Jo Mousley, Kate Wood, Raif Clarke, Fraser Kelly, Evan McKevitt and Cameron Stenhouse