Review: The Full Monty at Sunderland's Empire Theatre
The theatre production of one of Britain’s most iconic comedy films, The Full Monty, stripped off in Sunderland this week (23 February). The Empire Theatre was fully seated, with a largely female audience in attendance.
Set in the late 1980s, the story follows Garry Lucy as main character, Gaz, and his mate Dave, played by Martin Miller, as they try to find work after being laid off at a steel works factory. Things get complicated for Gaz as, with little to no income, he can’t afford to pay his ex-wife child maintenance money. With the threat of loosing access to his son, Nathan, Gaz feels the pressure to get a job more than ever.
It’s at this point, when he pops down to his local pub, he and Dave come across the Chipendales – an all male strippers group. An idea for making easy money strikes Gaz – he and his pals could easily become male strippers too and the profits from their show would help him pay back his ex-wife.
With the help of former factory foreman, Gerald (Andrew Dunn), they recruit several other men , Horse (Louis Emerick), Guy (Rupert Hill) and Lomper (Bobby Schofield) to join their little group.
Gaz claims that their act has to have something the Chipendales’ didn’t and decides that they will all go “The Full Monty”.
The chemistry between the cast members was incredible, which was clear on stage, and helped in highlighting the darker aspects of the play, as well as enhancing the comedy parts.
Gary Lucy, who is well-known from his time on Eastenders and the Bill, had many of the women in the audience drooling. Even before we got to see him go the Full Monty while stripping off his trousers thanks to a wardrobe malfunction.
Schofield delivered a brilliant performance tackling the darker scenes of the play while also providing some of the show’s biggest laughs, proving that he is a diverse performer. The role of Lomper is probably one of the harder characters to portray as, if the actor doesn’t get it right, they can ruin the play’s comedy value.
The set designers managed to keep the industrial theme of the steel works prominent, despite moving from the abandoned factory, to the working men’s club to characters homes.
Despite being a comedy, The Full Monty is riddled with key political and historical happenings, which gives the overall play a sense of British-ness.