The Full Monty

The Full Monty

September 24-29

On tour until May, 2019

Storeyhouse, Chester

www.storyhouse.com

4*

The good, the bad and the ugly – the unfit, the infirm and the overweight, and unemployed, what on earth makes these men think they could be 1970’s Sheffield’s answer to the Chippendales? Question is, whose bright idea is it? That’d be Gaz, the ringleader….

Gary Lucy does a splendid, well, job, of portraying this complex, charismatic man, as infuriating as he is endearing, the latter in particular when it comes to relationships (like the one with his best friend, Dave), well, apart his dealings with exasperated ex wife, Mandy (Amy Thompson) and new boyfriend, Barry (Stephen Donald). More importantly, there’s his son, Nathan. Frazer Kelly lives up to his Dad’s reputation, acting that is, although this plot strand is the weakest link, a lad managing to save up £150 (that’s over £1200 today), then insisting his Dad use it for a very dubious endeavour. Never mind Gaz even taking it, let alone considering backing down at the end and letting everybody down. But it does underline how desperate are the measures which need to be taken, with Gaz facing the threat of not seeing his boy, and with the equally desperate need for work, two of the recruits being virtually on their last legs.

The cast are exemplary, the six men largely well-known faces from TV. Kai Owen as popular, jovial Dave is also adept at showing the poignance of his troubled relationship with wife Jean (lovingly played by Liz Carney), bracing himself to working as a dishwasher at the Conservative Club. And to losing weight, briefly. As for the other couple, however, while Andrew Dunn excels as pompous but practical Gerald, garnering much of the laughter, Bryonie Pritchard seems to rush into the role of Linda and is correspondingly less impressive. It was also disappointing that some of the dialogue was a bit rushed and inaudible.

And space only for a bare outline of the other three: Louis Emerick is always sure of a great response and certainly earns it with his moves while Joe Gill’s curiously named Lomper is a loner and introvert who flourishes with friendship, particularly that of the amiable and laid back Guy (James Redmond) – yes, you know, the one who got the biggest cheer.

The staging is what you could, contradictorily, call an immaculately derelict factory, mostly because that’s where nearly all the action takes place. And although this doesn’t really work for domestic interiors, it comes into its own again as a club, inside and out, back and front of the curtain. But the iconic scenes are intact, and the actual performance which ends the show is short and slick and extremely professional, if making you wonder whether anybody has tried bribing or blackmailing the Lighting Director. Like ‘Calendar Girls’, if not always in the best possible taste, it’s all in a good cause. Yes, the show is heartbreaking at times but more often heartwarming, and laugh out loud hilarious. And the music’s not bad either.

There was inevitably a fair amount of audience participation ie very loud comments because it was one of the most enthusiastic ever. A brilliantly entertaining night out which, it has to be said, came up with a standing ovation, on both sides of the lights.

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