The Alhambra theatre is a 1400 seat 100 year old theatre and in remarkably good condition and is the latest stop for the national tour of The Full Monty, the play based on the feel good movie of1997. It has three more stops before the tour ends in Sunderland, Llandudno and its spiritual home, Sheffield.
On this occasion the full house was 95% female and I have rarely heard so much noise in the auditorium before and during the show, even for pantomimes. They are clearly fans of the movie and anticipating the show stopping ending with great excitement.
However, some of the dialogue is drowned out by the noise and not helped by the fact that the cast are not personally miked, relying instead on three mikes at the front of the stage and requiring the young lad playing Nathan, the son of Gaz, to shout his lines through most of the show.
The background to the stage play is literally the abandoned steel works in Sheffield which has impacted the lives and communities of the former workers in the early seventies. The back wall of the derelict works dominates the stage and all the other scenes are played against this backdrop. While this works for much of the play the scenes in the job centre, on a park bench and around their homes are restricted by this design.
Despite these distractions, the strong cast create a developing sense of togetherness and friendship which is touching and believable. Gaz, the unemployed ringleader is played by Gary Lucy and his on-off relationship with his best mate Dave, played by Kai Owen is at the centre of the story as is Gaz's relationship with his son Nathan.
Anthony Lewis plays the suicidal security man, Lomper, an outsider and loner
The final arrival to the dance troop is Chris Fountain as Guy at the end of Act 1 and clearly much awaited by the audience bringing whoops of delight when he drops his trousers.
This is a show about these six men and the young boy and the other characters are under-developed and merely foils to the men in their daily lives but that does not matter as the audience are with the men and their final show as the front cloth drops.
Review by Nick Wayne