Review: The Full Monty at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Review: The Full Monty at Newcastle Theatre Royal

The Full Monty

Newcastle Theatre Royal

27th February 2024

I was really looking forward to this one because I absolutely adore the 1997 movie on which this play is based. There is a musical of The Full Monty which see the action transported across the Atlantic to Buffalo in New York and I feel that some of the working class Northern humour is lost by the relocation. Not so this staged version which is largely a replica of the film. 

For those who do not know the movie, it concerns Gary and a group of friends who have recently been laid off by the closing of their local steel works and they are making ends meets by nicking stuff from the former works and signing on for welfare benefits. Gary or Gaz to his mates (Danny Hatchard) has separated from his wife, Mandy (Laura Matthews) and only has limited access to their young son, Nathan (Theo Hills.) 

After seeing the extraordinary proceeds of a Chippendales Ladies night at the local working men’s club, Gaz hits on the idea of doing their own night with proper Sheffield fellas to earn some much needed cash. They then embark on auditions for more men and begin rehearsing for their one night only strip night at the same club with hilarious results. 

The play, which like the film, is also written by Simon Beaufoy and directed for the stage by Michael Gyngell, remains very faithful to the movie that was a smash hit. All the humour is there and the famous job centre scene is cleverly recreated with the audience murmuring in appreciation and anticipation as they line up to sign on.

My only minor criticism of the play is the relationship between Gaz and his former wife which remains very cold and distant. Even Nathan telling Gaz that she was in the audience at the end did not really have the more rounded and fond relationship that they had in the film or indeed the musical version and made Mandy almost the villain of the piece. 

This play touches on some tricky subject matter including suicidal ideation, paternal rights, and toxic masculinity and homophobia but the deft touch of the writing by Beaufoy has these wash gently over with good humour. 

The set which is man- and woman- handled by the entire cast and a gang of stage hands proves a little cumbersome on the raked stage of the Newcastle Theatre Royal but they all worked tirelessly to keep the action moving. They lighting was minimal and complemented the action perfectly. I say simple – The Full Monty is the one thing whether play, musical or scene recreation when I have no problem whatsoever being blinded by the lights. To be honest – it is probably a blessed relief right at the very end to all concerned.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation for the stage and were whooping and cheering from the word go. There was a well deserved standing ovation at the end and everyone left buzzing for the cast on a job very well done. The music choices are all appropriate and the soundtrack includes Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones to satisfy fans of the film. 

There are loads of characters who deserve a mention including the ironically named Horse (Ben Onwukye), the initially suicidal Lomper (Nicholas Prasad) the unreasonably well endowed and openly gay (in a change to the narrative of the film) Guy (Jake Quickenden) but stealing the show, as he does in the film, with all the best one-liners is the rotund Dave (Neil Hurst.)

Local lad Bill Ward plays stuffy ex-foreman Gerard.  I had the pleasure of speaking to Bill at the end of the show and he never performed at the magnificent Theatre Royal in his home town before, positively bristled with pride at doing so. He was also very complimentary of the performance of Theo Hills as Nathan – one of two very talented boys playing the part of Gary’s son with Rowan Poulton playing opposite him on this leg of the tour.

I have to agree. Hills was outstanding throughout the performance in what is a demanding role for someone as young but his monologue chastising his wayward dad for being a wuss was a sheer joy and thoroughly deserved the rapturous round of applause at its conclusion. Theo gets my star of the show award but that does not diminish from any of the other cast or crew to have brought a wonderful production to our flagship Newcastle Theatre and plays until Saturday 2nd March.

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