Simon Beaufoy’s The Full Monty brilliantly captures the essence of the original Full Monty film, bringing a new dimension via the stage-show that electrifies this slapstick comedy. The original film may be over 20 years old and yet Beaufoy maintains the heart-warming characters that led to the critical acclaim.
What the production of The Full Monty does so well is tell an array of stories in one short piece. In comedies, it is often easy to lose sight of characters’ individuality and for some to stand out more than others. However, in this production, you really get to know each character, with each one having their own comedic strong point. Whether it be Lomper’s (Joe Gill) tragic persona, Gerald’s (Andrew Dunn) farcical snobbery, or Guy’s (James Redmond) unfounded level of confidence; every character is memorable and unique in their own right.
One problem that the play encounters within its character development is the “accents” of its lead character. Gaz (Gary Lucy) is supposed to represent a typical, Northern Yorkshire lad but his accent blows his cover, ranging from sounding Irish, to Mancunian, to something from Only Fools and Horses. Nevertheless, Lucy compensates for this through great comedic timing.
Another strong element of the play is its multidimensional nature. Whilst it is explicitly a comedy, the show also alludes to the darker undertones facing cities like Sheffield after the pits closed. The fragile masculinity that many steelworkers faced in their lives is brilliantly executed in the comedy, with characters like Dave (Kai Owen) showing the embarrassment men felt as their wives became the main bread-winners.
The format of the play also lends itself excellently for theatre. Being live, it really brings to life the various moments in the comedy, in particular the last scene – the strip show! The audience is encouraged to cheer and scream (and with over 1,000 drunk middle-aged women, you can bet they screamed!). This electrifies the last scene and makes for a real celebratory end to the play.
Overall, this is a brilliant play. There is a real recognition of Sheffield’s history and a true celebration of the original Full Monty film. Every character is hilarious, extremely talented and fits together perfectly. What the play lacks in clothes, it makes up for in comedy. So, forget comedy gold, this was comedy steel!
Image Credits: Sheffield Theatres