It’s the early 80’s. Thatcher’s Britain in the Steel City, or lack of steel city by this point. After being unemployed for six months, what lengths will these six working-class men go to to get their cash together?
The Full Monty opened at The Regent Theatre, Hanley, last night (19 November), and despite unemployment, court orders and suicide attempts, the play is still described as ‘feelgood’.
It’s not all about the stripteasing and ‘bums of steel’. The reproduction of the 1997 film tackles far more in depth social matters. Stoke-on-Trent is all too familiar with the issues portrayed in this Sheffield-set performance. During the same period, Thatcher closed our potbanks and mineworks. The show was one that resonated with its audience in the Potteries.
When Gaz, played by Gary Lucy, is handed a letter stating he will be unable to see his son, Nathan, if he doesn’t get money from somewhere, he is determined to find a way. It pulls on the maternal heartstrings of the predominantly female audience as the father-son relationship is threatened.
Gaz has an ingenious idea, rallying the support of best mate Dave (Kai Owen) and some fellow ex-steelies. If the Chippendales can do it, then so can they – and they go all the way. The Full Monty.
It may have taken some convincing for some of the boys, with Dave’s ‘fat bastard’ body confidence issues, and Gerald not wanting his conservative wife to know he was unemployed.
Somewhat dark humour had the audience in stitches throughout the show. ‘Leonard Cohen, The Smiths, The Cure? No wonder you’re depressed!’ Dave exclaims to Lomper flicking through his record collection, shortly after his attempted suicide.
And speaking of good music, Music Consultant Steve Parry did a wonderful job at selecting the tracks to be played during scene changes, including David Bowie, The La’s and Joy Division, encapsulating the best of 80s.
The two hour show built up the anticipation for one defining moment. Dave, Gerald, Guy, Lomper and Horse are all ready to go out to their sold out show, but Gaz is nowhere to be seen. Nathan, played by Fraser Kelly, finds him sulking outside and gives him a chuffing good talking to. The show will go on.
These six unlikely lads have been through so much together that the audience are even more elated to see them do the performance. They all have a new sense of identity and pride, a new sense of self-love and for some, a new sense of sexuality as Lomper and Guy find themselves interested in each other.
As the opening notes of You Can Leave Your Hat On played through the speakers, whoops and cheers filled the theatre. They nailed their teasing routine, choreographed by Ian West, and were left with nothing but their hat on by the end of the show. The big finale saw the lads get their entire kit off in a plume of smoke and fireworks, beaming with pride.
Before the show, Jake had been a little concerned about the show I was taking him to see. Since The Full Monty isn’t just about the full monty, even he enjoyed the comedy and storyline behind the production. It was thoroughly enjoyable and a must-watch for anyone up for a giggle.