Review by Liz Turner
The whole chuffing audience was out of its seats howling with delight as Sheffield’s ‘Bums of Steel’ went for the full monty.
And this is the kind of standing ovation the cast of The Full Monty will surely get used to during the UK tour, which started at Bournemouth Pavilion.
The tale of six out of work Sheffield steelmakers who dared to bare all is a heart-warming story of close bonds, love, family and determination. It is also extremely funny and you can’t help chortling out loud.
Brought to the stage by the film’s screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, much of the action is set in the former steelworks and in the community struggling to survive.
Following the plot of the film, the play tackles the social issues of the Thatcher regime – unemployment, depression, denial and family break-up. But with perfect timing, a sprinkling of slapstick, wit and innuendo the play is uplifting and inspiring and still relevant today.
There isn’t a single Adonis in the six strong ‘Bums of Steel’ and they certainly aren’t contenders to be Chippendales. Never has a display of weary Y-fronts, baggy boxers and tatty trunks – worn of course with socks – created so much laughter. However, unlike the muscle-bound Chippendales, they are prepared to go the whole way – silky red thong and all.
Coming in all shapes, sizes and ages, the unlikely heroes have the guts (some larger than others) to do the job and the audience love them for it.
Likely lad Gaz, played by Gary Lucy, comes up with the riotous idea of stripping to raise money so he doesn’t lose access to his son. Supported by best mate, Dave (Kai Owen) he cajoles and persuades the other desperate steelworkers – Lomper (Anthony Lewis), Gerald (Andrew Dunn), Horse (Louis Emerick), and Guy (Chris Fountain) to join him. Each has their own moving back-story. Seeing them overcome fears, self-doubt, embarrassment and indignity to finally triumph and celebrate re-empowerment, takes you on a journey filled with emotion.
There were no weak links in the cast and it was clear they were enjoying themselves as much as the audience was.
And of course there’s the music – Hot Chocolate’s “Sexy Thing”, Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and Tom Jones’ “You Can Leave Your Hat On” – not that anyone cared about hats in the riotous finale.
The first tour of The Full Monty was voted best touring production in the UK Theatre Awards. From the smiles of delight from the audience, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t win again.
The Fully Monty continues until Saturday 24 September