THE FULL MONTY. Broadway musical. Music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by Laura Bosman. Presented by P2 Productions. At the Roxy Revue Bar, GrandWest.

SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews

The Full Monty

The “Full Monty” is British slang for two diametrically opposite forms of men’s dress. The term, of uncertain origins, can imply “dressed to the hilt” for formal occasions. Or apply to wearing Hans Christian Andersen’s Emperor’s New Clothes.  Nothing, in other words. Around the latter, David Yazbek, American composer and lyricist, built the comic, thought-provoking musical, The Full Monty.

Set in a shabby area in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1984, the story centres on divorced, out-of-work, living-on-the-dole, Jerry Lukowski (Matthew Roy). Ex-wife Pam (Candice Burgess) threatens to remove his joint custody of dearly loved son Nathan (Sebastian Rodrigues) unless Jerry offers regular financial support. Pam has a job. As does her well-to-do live-in boyfriend Teddy (Chris Cameron-Dow).

Jerry is bemoaning his troubles to best pal Dave (Chris Laurie) when Buddy (Shaun Saal), in bright pink satin shirt, waltzes in, flings up his arms and broadcasts: “I am a Chippendale.” He’s referring to the famous male strippers whom a gaggle of giggling wives are preparing to pay £10 to see. Noting Buddy’s six-pack matching his good looks, Jerry has an idea how to make a quid or two.

The Full Monty

Jerry asks co-dole-mates: “If the girls are prepared to pay £10 to see the Chippendales – who don’t go all the way – how much would they pay to see the Full Monty?  At £20 a ticket we’d each make 3 000 quid.” The money tempts Dave, buddies Malcolm (David Wilke), Harold (Simon Speck), Noah (Horse) (Nathan Muller) and Ethan (Wesley Figaji) to form the Hot Metals.  But there’s one hurdle. Apart from Horse’s grand physical shape and ability to sing and dance, only Harold has a smattering of dance training. The others’ talents are unmentionable …

Funny but also poignant

Earning money, love and interpersonal relationships are at the heart of this funny musical. And funny The Full Monty is. Yet, underneath lies a poignant message – true love means sharing not just good times, but also bad times.

The songs are an integral part of the production. Dave’s exuberant wife Georgie (Jaime Uranovsky), Pam, and friends Joanie (Santie du Toit) Estelle (Kimberley Papas) and Susan (Kerryn Warren) believe It’s a Woman’s World. You Walk with Me declares love between Malcolm and Ethan. And when the team join a lively showbiz piano player in her glittering outfit for Jeanette’s ShowBiz Number it gives the gang the courage to go on by Letting it Go.

'The Full Monty'

Director Laura Bosman’s hand-picked team are tops. Each brought out the humour and pathos of their individual situations, making it difficult to laud one over another. However, Roy’s fatherly love for his son and willingness to do anything to keep in touch, and Laurie’s unselfconsciousness, deserve special mention. Laurie in particular gave Dave a depth to a character that could unkindly be laughed at.

Although done smartly, back stage crew manually changing sets lost time and continuity. But the lighting crews did a grand job shifting times of day to suit scenes.  Disappointment came from sound levels. These tended to distort the ladies’ voices as well as being way too loud for this intimate space. Nevertheless, this well costumed, polished, entertaining musical, even with its bad language, isn’t an empty laugh. It leaves a message that honesty in love should be condoned.

What: The Full Monty
Where, when: Roxy Revue Bar, GrandWest until 25 November, 2017
Performances: Wednesdays to Saturdays, 7.30pm
Book tickets: Quicket
Note: The show contains strong language and adult themes and is not recommended for children 13 years or under
WS