Going the Full Monty

One of the best-loved stage productions of recent years has arrived in Birmingham.

The Full Monty
Birmingham Hippodrome

It’s almost two decades since The Full Monty was released to immediate and huge acclaim. This award-winning film then led to an equally popular theatre production that’s currently touring and plays the Hippodrome this week.

Adapted for the stage by the Oscar-winning original writer Simon Beaufoy, the tale that has now become familiar unfolds against a backdrop of post-industrial Sheffield during the Thatcher era. Men who’d spent their working lives in highly-paid skilled professions found themselves on the scrap heap, facing either the dole queue or menial jobs as they attempt to keep body, soul and families together. Along the way they find redemption by forming an unlikely group of male strippers.

For Gaz (Gary Lucy) it’s a way of clearing the maintenance debts that threaten his relationship with young son Nathan. Dave (Kai Owen) needs something to avoid having to take a job washing up at the local Conservative club while their former boss Gerald (Andrew Dunn) is desperately trying to keep from his wife, the snobbish Linda (Pauline Fleming), the reality that he lost his job six months earlier.

Suicidal Lomper (Anthony Lewis), pretty boy Guy (Chris Fountain) and finally northern soul veteran Horse (Louis Emerick) complete the ensemble and from then on you can see the plot development coming a mile off, not that this distracts from the evening’s enjoyment, as shown by an audience that clapped along, cheered and applauded every move with a rare enthusiasm.

If the acting is everything you expect from such a seasoned and well-respected company, there’s also a set designed by Robert Jones that’s a real highlight, switching from disused steel mill to working mens club to dole office (yes, THAT scene is featured) and finally the glittering stage where the grand finale takes place to a rapturous ovation.

The storyline treads that well-loved path aided by a plethora of notable performances as the budding Chippendale wannabes come together, fall apart and finally find success, happiness and fulfilment. In the words of the compere, they may not be pretty, they may not be good, but for one night only they go the Full Monty. Or do they? You’ll have to go along and see for yourself.

Until 19th November. Tickets www.birminghamhippodrome.com/