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The film's iconic job centre scene brought to the stage as the unemployed would be strippers. hands on heads, join the jobless queue to sign on.

The Full Monty

Birmingham Hippodrome


Peter Cattaneo’s 1997 low budget film about a bunch of out of work Sheffield steelworkers turning to stripping to earn a crust became an international smash hit.

Three years later an Americanised musical version hit Broadway but it took another 13 years for Simon Beaufoy to turn his screenplay into a stage play and, now back in Sheffield, the lads are still broke, still jobless and still stripping – to the delight of the ladies.

The intimacy of film provided the dramatic scenes which gave it something to say about an industry dying, unemployed workers who felt they were on the scrapheap, and then the strains it creates on marriage and families,

The film also explored depression and suicide, homosexuality and father’s rights as well as other social issues.

Not that it was some sort of kitchen sink drama or agitprop, it was also very funny, a comedy at heart, heart being the word. The characters became real people, people with whom we had empathy.

The stage play keeps and even expands the comedy, but the social issues have drifted into the background. They are still there but are side issues, mentioned rather than questioned.

The plot is still the same, Gaz, (Gary Lucy) is a joker, he is also unemployed and way behind on his child support payments to wife Mandy (Amy Thompson) for son Nathan (Fraser Kelly).

So far behind , in fact, he is being threatened with court and denial of access to Nathan. 


A cheeky view of the Buns of Steel at The Full Monty finale

So, after trying to nick a girder from their old, closed steel mill, to earn 40 quid at the scrapper with best mate Dave (Kai Owen), he comes up with the idea of forming a male strip act. The idea spawned after seeing the local working mens’ club packed to the rafters with women, at a tenner a time, to see The Chippendales.

Which sees a motley crew of various shapes and sizes – in all departments – joining Gaz’s Buns of Steel – who are going to go The Full Monty, none of this Chippendales thonged budgie smuggler, thank you and good night stuff, this will be all the way, Gaz tells a couple of club girls to flog a few tickets.

Not that the news goes down a bundle with the rest of the act. There is Horse, (Louis Emerick) arthritic with a stick, Lomper (Joe Gill) a confused young blokes with a disabled mother, Gerald (Andrew Dunn) their former foreman who has yet to tell his wife the steel mill has closed. Gerald, who runs a dance class, becomes their teacher come choreographer.

Then there is Guy. Guy can’t dance, but he passes the audition because he provides, should we say, a feature whose dimensions may be appreciated by the ladies.

Along with way we discover their problems. Lomper finds direction from Guy, while Gerald finds his wife Linda (Bryonie Pritchard) didn’t need protecting from reality as the bailiffs arrive.

Then there is Dave and his struggling relationship with wife Jean (Liz Carney). She wants a baby but Dave’s problems extend to more than just unemployment – he feels inadequate as a bloke in more ways than one.

The six carry their parts well. Gaz the cheeky chappy who finds life serious when he faces the loss of his son. Good old reliable Dave, whose libido is as lifeless as the crane he once worked at the steel mill.

Gerald keeps up the pretence of working partly to protect Linda, party out of shame and a sense of failure, while Lomper needs the confidant, at least on the outside, Guy to find himself.

While Horse is just Horse, with a name that is a more optimistic billing than the reality. 

The three wives also play their part, Linda feeling betrayed, Jean feeling unloved and Mandy, thinking Gaz is a jobless waste of space, yet you feel, still with feelings for him., Then there is  good support from a cast who provide job centre staff, police, girls on a night out and anyone else needed. Director Rupert Hill keeps up a cracking pace on a steel mill set from Robert Jones. 

The set demands some imagination as it also serves as Mandy’s house, Gerald’s home and various offices and a police station with just a few props and Colin Grenfell’s lighting to mark the change with the music, loud and lively, carrying everyone, cast and audience, along.

But the simplicity means the scene changes are quick as we lead up to the Full Monty finale, when the cast, or at least the six strippers, hope the bloke on the lights is on the right page and none of the bulbs fail.

The stage play does not have the same social bite, or characterisations as the film and has become more of a girl’s night out job – and a very successful one at that considering the whoops and cheers at anything remotely risqué – and there is a lot or risqué, much of it far from remote, with plenty of willy jokes to go round.

Similar enthusiasm is shown whenever any male flesh is revealed – so much so I suspect that no man in the audience would have risked taking his jacket off, just to be on the safe side..

It is great fun, with plenty of laughs and some clever lines, and makes for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment. And, let's be honest, you can’t ask for more than that.  To 10-11-18

Roger Clarke


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