Review: The Full Monty at the Orchard Theatre

Incredibly, this year it’s two decades since The Full Monty first hit the big screen. Now it’s arrived on stage, and is being greeted with all the hysterical screaming you might expect. But Bums of Steel and dodgy thongs aside, the adapted stage version also retains all the heart and humour of the classic British movie, and the final reveal (so to speak) is well worth the wait.

Set in Sheffield in the 80s, this is the story of Gaz, Dave and their mates, who find themselves out of work and down on their luck – until the Chippendales come to town, and give Gaz a brainwave… With all the Dad dancing, classic tunes and inappropriate behaviour you could wish for, the play, like the movie before it, also brings its brusque Northern sense of humour to some pretty weighty issues including politics, mental health, family, body image and sexuality.

Photo credit: Matt Crockett
Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Now, with all due respect to Robert Carlyle et al, the cast for the stage version of The Full Monty is considerably better looking than I remember from the movie. But former soap hunks Gary Lucy, Chris Fountain and Anthony Lewis aren’t just here for eye candy, (though they certainly tick that particular box) and deliver some sensitive performances, along with their fellow troupe members Andrew Dunn, Louis Emerick and Kai Owen. In fact in amongst the mayhem there are some really touching scenes, particularly between Gaz (Gary Lucy) and his son Nathan (Reiss Ward), and between the depressed Lomper (Anthony Lewis) and happy-go-lucky Guy (Chris Fountain). Despite everything they’re going through, what makes this story so enjoyable is the relationships between the characters, and this cast have great chemistry throughout. Just one minor gripe: it might have been the angle or the accents, but I found it sometimes quite hard to catch all the dialogue, and judging by the lively audience response, missed a few of the best lines.

Photo credit: Matt Crockett
Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Adapted by original screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, the show includes all the classic scenes (queue dancing, anyone?), which adapt really well for the stage and help to whip the audience up into a frenzy of expectation. And we’re still able to travel all over Sheffield thanks to Robert Jones’ multi-functional set, which with a quick change of props, lighting and backdrop becomes derelict factory, working men’s club, job centre and more.

The Full Monty is a fun night out, whether you’ve seen the movie before or you’re a first-timer. Expect plenty of bawdy humour alongside some more introspective moments, and of course the explosive finale, which is everything we wanted it to be. This is hen party theatre at its finest – but there’s substance as well as style here, and the resulting show is satisfying in more ways than one.

The Full Monty is at the Orchard Theatre until 18th February.

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