Last night I attended the Press Night for The Full Monty at The Marlowe Theatre. Originally produced at Sheffield Theatres, this show by Simon Beaufoy, manages to aptly capture every scene from the original screenplay perfectly.
If you haven’t seen the original movie, the story starts off in Sheffield in the 70’s, and tells the story of six unemployed men. From different backgrounds and with different life stories, they decide to form a male stripper act, to make money for their individual needs and reasons.
The six main characters are joined by a strong supporting cast-each one bringing the humour and emotion, we remember from the original story.
Gary Lucy, plays ‘Gaz‘, a former steel worker, and father to Nathan, struggling to find the money for child support payments, so he can continue to see his son.
Gaz’s backstory offers some of the most emotional scenes we see during the show, and Gary plays each scene, regardless of the type of emotion or humour, with ease and poignancy.
‘Nathan‘ was played by Reiss Ward, and oh my, that boy was amazing! The Mummy in me took a little time to get past the fact the other characters consistently swore in front of him, but he played the character with such confidence and certainty, I quickly relaxed and enjoyed his personal story.
Nathan is so torn, having overheard conversations between his Father, Mother and Stepfather, he’s worried he won’t be able to see his Dad anymore. His love for spending time with him is tainted by never doing anything he deems as “fun”. His joy is restored when he helps his Dad start ‘The Full Monty’ up, and he eventually becomes the only sensible person Gaz will listen to when he has second thoughts about actually dancing.
Gaz’s best friend, ‘Dave‘, is played by Kai Owen. A larger man, his story tells of his struggles to conceive with his partner, Jean. His body confidence is low, and his marital life is suffering because of this. Jean’s love for him, and how he looks, gives him the confidence to be part of ‘The Full Monty’, and Kai portrays every emotion fittingly, enabling the audience to fall a little in love with him themselves.
Louis Emerick plays ‘Horse‘, an older and slightly less mobile member of the troupe. Horse has an arthritic hip, but this only adds to his own style of smooth moves, and never deters from his enthusiasm. Limping on for his first scene during the auditions for the stripping troupe, the audience’s excitement and elation when he starts dancing are delightful to witness.
Anthony Lewis plays ‘Lomper‘, a bumbling wreck of a young man. From the get go, we see how utterly desperate he has become in life, choosing to commit suicide because he’s so unhappy. Thankfully, the scene in which he follows through with the choice to hang himself, is done humorously (even if there were gasps from the audience when he actually did it!). Personally one of my favourite characters, Andrew plays Lomper’s scenes with ease, never failing to draw us in to the emotion he’s portraying.
Andrew Dunn plays ‘Gerald‘, the oldest member of the troupe. His wife, doesn’t know he hasn’t had a job for 6 months, and she thinks he leaves for work everyday, rather than going to ‘The Job Club’. Her spending on his credit cards, shopping, booking holidays etc, means he is probably the most desperate to find a job, and when the boys scupper his chances of a new career (that gnome scene was just hilarious), he decides to join the younger members of the club and be part of ‘The Full Monty’.
Chris Fountain plays ‘Guy‘, a confident,
well endowed funny, young man who joins the troupe last, but last definitely doesn’t mean least in this case. His presence on stage, and his care and compassion for Lomper during their only private scene together, melted the audiences heart. (He also had me personally believing he was going to run up that wall and make the flip!)
‘That scene’ the whole audience waits for is just amazing. I watched as smiles-genuine smiles-crept onto each face of the cast in front of me. Their friendships and enjoyment in those stolen seconds when they catch each others eye, even up until the curtain call when they’re giggling and chatting to each other as they bow and listen to the audiences applause, is pretty adorable.
Stripping aside (even though that happened to be one of my favourite ‘parts’), the stories of each character, are told with perfect emotion and sentiment.
The actors and supporting cast members consistently kept the audience invested in their stories. You felt genuine happiness and sadness when something moving happened (and for a couple of minutes towards the end, I genuinely did forget I was supposed to be making notes and reviewing this show).
The Full Monty, is still on tour-check out where you can see it, here!