The Full Monty at New Wimbledon Theatre
First seen at the Lyceum in 2013, where it will return to end the current UK tour, Simon Beaufoy’s stage adaptation of his 1997 British comedy was lauded and – judging from tonight’s performance – seems to have been living off those plaudits for too long.
The adaptation is faithful to the film in many ways. Gary Lucy plays Gaz, an unemployed former steel factory worker who encourages five other dole-claimers to become male strippers. And, like in the movie, the climax is The Bums of Steel’s sell-out strip-tease at the local Conservative Club.
The staging has an intriguing design where, like previous sets on the UK tours, Robert Jones has realistically depicted the dilapidated interior of the abandoned steel factory which Gary, David (Kai Owen) and Gerald (Andrew Dunn) need to strip to source an income. With a few changes, it cleverly transforms into the Job Club, the Conservative Club, the job centre and various other settings; yet it never veers too far from the film with the classic soundtrack and famous scenes (such as the impromptu dole queue dance routine to Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, which causes the “hen party” crowd to whoop and clap along as the sequence plays out). Indeed, such is their predilection for Gary Lucy, they are not bothered that he is largely miscast and occasionally struggles with the Sheffield accent: they just want to see his body.
Beaufoy does develop the exploration of the homosexual relationship, however, between Lomper (Joe Gill) and Guy (James Redmond), which is sincerely portrayed by Gill to elicit a sweet amount of pathos for the naïve, self-loathing Lomper, even if it does feel incongruous with the 80s setting of the text. The brevity with which such intriguing issues are explored is the key pitfall of this adaptation.
The script is humorous and the one-liners are adroitly delivered throughout by Owen and Dunn, but the innuendo just becomes predictable after a while and seems to override some of the sensitivities that could have been inserted into the adaptation such as the depression which poverty, body image and unemployment brings. It’s a pleasant production, and a nice night out, but sacrifices substance for merely replicating the classic moments of the film.
The Full Monty is at New Wimbledon Theatre from 29th April until 4th May 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.