The Full Monty at the Noel Coward
There is no doubt that you will walk out of this stage adaptation of The Full Monty with tears either peaking around the corners of your eyes from strained smiles or rolling down your cheeks (if you’ve a more tender heart). Simon Beaufoy put upon himself the challenge of adapting his 1997 hit film for the stage, quite unprepared for the 20 drafts he had to go through, as he says in the programme that writing for the stage was “hugely but subtly different […] I had to learn a whole new set of skills to make it work in a theatrical space”.
And boy did he make it work. The one-liner gags and heartening working class Yorkshire humour connected with the nerve that the Thatcher era and its bitter effects, had put into everybody’s heart. The wonderful cast each provide a unique take on the misery that Thatcher’s government caused for the many left unemployed, with Guy’s (Kieran O’Brien) rabid homosexuality, Lomper’s typically deadpan suicide attempt (a perfect downplay from coronation street’s Craig Gazey), sticky divorces, debt, lies, and sun beds. Roger Morlidge (Henry V, The Country Wife) represented the tender-hearted, forlorn Dave, with an air of a fading, worn man that was in stark contrast to Kenny Doughty’s (Small Change, Troilus & Cressida) mischievous and sprightly Gaz.
The 80s aesthetic is not subtle. A girl goes for a wee standing up outside a club, true man-style, to cackles from her friends and an appreciative “you’ll be teaching that at the WI!”, perfectly exemplifying how 80s politics, with The Iron Lady at its head, was twisting gender roles and weakening masculine power.
Whilst The Full Monty will no doubt continue the success it earned in its hometown of Sheffield, as a stage adaptation it relies on the audience’s familiarity with the film for a sustained enjoyment. The first half is very slow, and it takes for some real bum shaking in the second half before the real fun begins. Steven Hoggett’s choreography is the shining star, for it brought together the individual sluggish bums that were almost haphazardly placed around the stage, bringing forth the human energy that had been quashed by the Thatcher era. The final scene was a rocketing climax, with men and lighting choreographed so perfectly so as to raise the roof for the standing ovation that the final scene so deserved. The full monty was the enlightenment of the lost souls.
The Full Monty is on at Noel Coward Theatre until 14th June 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for the production here: