We’ve all seen the iconic 90s movie and now the award-winning hit play puts the heartfelt story – and other things(!) – front and centre at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre this week.
This brand new production of The Full Monty proves to be still very much of our time. Set against the backdrop of a cost of living crisis, Gaz and his mates are down on their luck, with no job, status or income, but determined to hatch a plan to make money.
And so the inspiration comes to form an impromptu – and unlikely – strip act. But if they’re guaranteed to make it pay they need to go a step further than the raunchy rivals recently in town, and go the full monty!
The show – and the film before it – succeeds because it has integrity and heart. Director Michael Gyngell puts it very well when he says it’s not about stripping but rather why they strip.
It’s all carried off beautifully by a cast which includes a host of familiar faces – Danny Hatchard, (Lee Carter Eastenders); Jake Quickenden (X-Factor and Dancing On Ice) and Bill Ward (Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street and James Barton in Emmerdale).
A carefully chosen soundtrack of classics also cleverly captures the rollercoaster of emotions that are such a driving element throughout the show.
For Full Monty first-timers a warning that it’s not an easy watch at times (beware of a possible trigger moment in an attempted suicide scene) but it is not out of keeping with this gritty and, at times, raw storyline. (It’s recommended for over 14s)
This does not detract however from the laughs, of which there are plenty. But there’s certainly a sense of laughing with them, not at them, and we’re rooting for them throughout.
The final scene is its most famous – and most anticipated(!) – and one can only admire their nerve as actors. But respect to the lighting team who are tasked with timing their stage blackout to perfection to protect the cast’s modesty!
The show is best summed up by their introduction ahead of their finale performance. . . “They may not be young, they may not be pretty and they may not be right good. But for one night and one night only, they’re here, they’re live and they’re going the full monty.”
A glorious and delirious production that is also earnest. Grab your pals for a cheeky night of entertainment that you won’t regret. And you can leave your hat on!
The Full Monty plays at The Belgrade Theatre until Saturday. Tickets are available from the box office here or call02476 553055.