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Phil Hopkins
Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
@philhopkinsuk
11:34 PM 14th November 2023
arts
Review

Music & Wonderful Thongs – The Full Monty

 
It was the show that launched a thousand female screams and inspired hundreds of breakfast sarnie shops to dish up ‘Full Breakfasts in a bun’: yes, The Full Monty is back in all its naked glory….the show, not the sandwich!

And what a fantastic play Simon Beaufoy penned for the stage, some 16 years on from when the hit 1997 movie of the same name – driven forward by his original screenplay – blew the world away.

I’ve seen the film but never the stage adaptation so, for me, last night’s performance at Bradford’s Alhambra was a breath of fresh air full of pathos, wonderful Northern humour and enough belly laughs to last a lifetime: genuinely a tonic on a miserable Autumn night!

And considering that the theatre was as full as I’ve ever seen it – someone quipped ‘My God, it could be Les Mis!’ – it’s safe to say that ‘Monty’ probably has as loyal a following as Rocky Horror: not quite ‘cult’ yet but certainly on its way!

For those Rip Van Winkles who have been asleep for the last 26 years, The Fully Monty is about six unemployed steel workers from Sheffield who come up with a hair-brained scheme to form themselves into a male strip act - Bums of Steel – and stage a one-off show.

Only their hair-brained scheme comes to fruition, sells out, nets them £1,000 each and returns their self-respect, lost to the wastelands of South Yorkshire’s economic slump.

But, put simply, that’s why The Full Monty works: it has heart and a credible story dressed up in pain, pathos and performance. It makes you laugh, melts hearts and, at times, makes you want to shed tears of joy and hurt.

Danny Hatchard, Jake Quickenden, Bill Ward, Neil Hurst, Ben Onwukwe and Nicholas Prasad as ‘the strippers’, aka Gaz, Guy, Gerald, Dave, Horse and Lomper, all deserved a medal and worked so well together, each carving out a very different, but believable, characterisation. Not, forgetting, of course, the wonderful wives and girlfriends: all superb

And what a superstar we saw in Theo Hills as Nathan, Gaz’s young son who chastises his dad for ‘talking bollocks’ and insists that he gets on stage and struts his stuff! Hilarious.

The set, at times a little lumbering, was, in equal measure, brilliant in that it had to span a social club, a job club, a police station and the inside of a disused steel works complete with lifting crane!

This show grabs you by the proverbials, slaps six burly blokes into little more than G-strings and, somehow, demands your attention!

The last time I wrote ‘brilliant’ at the end of a review was for An Inspector Calls. Here I go again: brilliant! You’d be a fool not to go, certainly if you’re in need of a riotous night of laughter on a wet November night!

The Full Monty Alhambra, Bradford
Until Saturday 18th November