The Full Monty, Belgrade Theatre, until 2 March
“It’s amazing the things you do for your wife,” said one of the few brave men in the audience as I squeezed past him to take up my seat among the other women, who like me had high expectations of this show now seriously fuelled by prosecco.
It’s also a very brave director that takes on a well-loved film and turns it into a live theatre performance to be potentially ripped apart by a critical audience.
Right from the start you are propelled into ‘Sheffield steel city’ by the set, if not always by the actors’ wavering northern accents.
The story is faithful to the film and it’s a joy to see all your favourite scenes brought to life on stage. There’s real comedy in the Job Centre queue gyrating along to ‘Hot Stuff’, the moment where they watch themselves on CCTV at the Police Station and Dave’s criticism of how bad the welding is in Flashdance.
All the six main actors pull their weight equally, each immersing you in their own story. The one to stand out was Fraser Kelly who played Nathan, berating his Dad in spectacular style towards the end.
What was most interesting, listening to a story first penned over twenty years ago, is that what was a comic aside about the female gaze on male bodies – ‘He’s too fat, he’s too old and he’s a pigeon-chested little t*****’ - takes on new significance in front of a predominantly female live audience. There is that moment where the audience recognises that they have come to see men get naked onstage and that if gender roles were reversed, they would be outraged.
Where the theatre production beats the film ‘pants down’ is during the final club scene, where, now whipped up in excitement the audience whoop and cheer the men on. The theatre has transformed into the working men’s club and the audience have become those Sheffield women wanting the ‘Buns of Steel’ to bare all for our entertainment.
It’s funny, it’s touching and you won’t leave disappointed…