Review: The Full Monty @ Lyceum Theatre
There’s a real buzz in The Lyceum tonight, a palatable sense of anticipation coursing throughout the old theatre. I’d wager that the reasons for this are two-fold: the first being that The Full Monty, the Steel City’s most famous tale, is back in town tonight; and the second, judging by the excited titterings of many in the queues outside, revolves around the prospect of seeing Eastenders star Gary Lucy and Chris Fountain of Hollyoaks in their birthday suits. In fact, the wolf whistles kick in during the opening scene, well before any item of clothing has been removed. It’s enough to give you the impression that some would be happy to pass on the the next hour and forty minutes of acting in favour of getting to the raunchy finale right away…
However, as we all know, beneath the comedy, the frolics and the many lunchboxes on show, there’s a serious message behind this story – a message arguably as relevant today as it was back in its original 1980s setting. And when Margaret Thatcher’s infamous ‘The lady’s not for turning’ speech echoes around the darkened theatre before the curtain rises, smiles are quickly extinguished as the audience recall the devastating impact of Thatcherism on their beloved city.
Trying to make the best out of his tricky situation – ie the lack of a job, an ex-wife demanding child support and a visibly disillusioned son – the story of ex-steelworker Gaz (played with just the right amount of gusto and loveable swagger by Lucy) still manages to give a hefty old tug on the heartstrings two decades after the original film was released. Writer Simon Beaufoy has lovingly adapted the script for a stage production, and amidst the heartbreak the belly laughs are still long and frequent, many of these at the expense of debt-ridden ex-foreman Gerald (played by comedy veteran Andrew Dunn) and the hapless Lomper (Anthony Lewis).
The success of the Full Monty – not just in Sheffield, but across the country – is the humanity of it all. People who, despite being confined to scrap and shut away by an unrepentant establishment, quite literally bare all, fight back and win. Sadly, it’s a conflict many are still facing up to across the country a whole three decades later, which makes for even more poignant viewing.
Do they go all way? Well, you’ll have to head down and find out…
Runs until Saturday 15 April 2017
Tickets available here