A play about male strippers that’s not at all sleazy?
Just like the film, the stage version of The Full Monty delivers a show that manages to give stripping a strong sense of humour instead.
There are giggles and roars of laughter a-plenty, but the play also manages to highlight serious issues such as unemployment, the annihilation of the manufacturing industry in the 1980s, sexual identity and even suicide without taking away the feel-good factor that the original film delivered.
At its heart, the story follows a group of men who’ve lost their skilled ‘job for life’ thanks to the decline of the steel industry in Sheffield.
Gaz, perfectly played by (cue screams from the ladies: Gary Lucy) can’t pay maintenance for his son and so risks losing contact with him. Hence, his desperate measures to make money. And when he hears that The Chippendales are drawing in massive crowds, he decides baring all might help bring in the cash he needs. But of course he has to go one better – and promises the ‘full monty’.
Kai Owen plays a blinder as Gaz’s best mate Dave and Andrew Dunn as Gerald commands the stage as ex-foreman Gerald who has hidden his unemployment from his snobby wife Linda for six months.
James Redmond as Guy does understated comedy really well, Louis Emerick as Horse manages to perform his dance-moves (with a limp, mind you) expertly and Joe Gill as Lomper makes a loveable misfit, performing his matter-of-fact attempted suicide scene brilliantly (taking a puff of his inhaler before launching himself over the precipice is genius).
Women of the cast perform their raucous, rowdy roles wonderfully and Liz Carney as Jean plays the down-to-earth sex-starved Jean effortlessly. Special credit also to Fraser Kelly as Nathan, Gaz’s long-suffering son who pretty much parents his lost Dad.
The final scene of course sends the audience into a frenzy of laughter – and anticipation! I won’t give the game away – but let’s just say that lighting has a lot to answer for!!
It’s on at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff until 16 March. For tickets and info, click here: Wales Millennium Centre
It then continues touring the UK. More information here: fullmontytheplay.com