The Full Monty
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from his own screenplay of the immensely popular 1997 film, The Full Monty has come home to Sheffield where it was rapturously received by an enthusiastic local audience at the Lyceum Theatre.
In a programme note, Beaufoy modestly admits that the process of adaptation was more difficult than he expected, and that the job required ‘rethinking, re-configuring, taking the machine apart and putting it back together in a slightly different order’.
The stage version retains the plot and characters of the original, as well as the trenchant combination of wit and pathos; but external scenes in the film have been drawn into an internal setting, which tightens the action and makes for more coherent theatrical experience. For example, the attempted car suicide in the film is adapted for an interior setting, but retains the structure and desperate comedy of the original.
The stage is dominated by a convincing reconstruction of a disused steel mill (designer Robert Jones), which is a constant reminder of the desolation, waste and depression of life on the dole. Against this background rehearsals for the male strip show take place, and the personal anxieties of the protagonists are revealed.
Gaz (Kenny Doughty) is desperate to retain contact with his kid; Dave (Roger Morlidge) has lost confidence and become impotent; Lomper (Craig Gazey) is suicidally lonely because he doesn’t know how to recognise and accept his sexuality; and Gerald (Simon Rouse) the erstwhile foreman who sees himself as a cut above the others, is caught in a hopeless financial trap because he can’t bring himself to tell his snooty wife that he has lost his job.
All these potential small tragedies are played out against the preparations for the ‘Full Monty’ gig. The dance scenes are particularly joyful in a live setting, and it is fascinating to see how readily the Lyceum audience transforms itself into whooping, whistling, clapping Working Men’s (Women’s) Club punters.
Kenny Doughty is a handsome Gaz, whose excellent dance skills are demonstrated early in the play, before the group is taken in hand for lessons. He is too good to merit the epithet ‘crap’ proffered by son Nathan, played by Travis Caddy, (an old before his time youngster) and leaves little room for improvement.
This is an ensemble production with well differentiated performances. Comic timing is excellent from the ‘Full Monty’ group, both in pointing up the verbal jokes, and in the physical comedy arising from the dance routines. The women in the cast give ample support. Caroline Carver is reluctantly alienated as Gaz’s still-loving wife Mandy; Tracy Brabin is suitably selfish and frosty as Linda; and Rachel Lumberg is impressive as Dave’s wife, Jean, not only for her superb vocal qualities but also the warmth and sincerity of her performance.
Splendid visual jokes are embedded in the production: the gnomes have their moment in the limelight; and a brass band makes a brief early appearance. Perhaps the most important thing is how well the film script/play has lasted, and how relevant the personal and political issues are for Sheffield and the rest of the beleaguered north in this time of double dip recession.
Reviewer: Velda Harris