REVIEW: The Full Monty, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, November 7.

The Full Monty
The Full Monty

The whoops started straightaway in certain sections of the audience; by the end, it was full-on shrieking as Gaz and the lads started to shed their clothes.

But throughout, it was abundantly clear there’s so much more to this now classic tale of near nudity.

Yes, Simon Beaufoy’s tale gets the hormones flowing, but it also tugs at the heart strings with a beautiful depiction of an era and a heart-breaking picture of the effects of its deprivations.

The piece takes us back to Thatcher’s Britain and the devastation of industry, in particular Sheffield steel.

Gaz – an excellent performance from Gary Lucy – is going to lose access to his young son Nathan (a similarly impressive Fraser Kelly) – unless he can make some cash to support his upbringing with his ex-wife. Hence the plan to stage a stripping show.

Along the way, we get some hefty issues, not least the way unemployment strips people in the most damaging way imaginable. Loss of livelihood is loss of face and loss of confidence, aspects teased out with great compassion as writer Simon Beaufoy brings together the world’s least likely bunch of strippers. Martin Miller’s Dave is emasculated by economic hardship; Andrew Dunn’s Gerald fights a losing battle to keep up appearances.

There are plenty of laughs – and it’s a riot by the end. But the night’s real strength is in the humanity with which it depicts the very human anguish behind it all.

And in that sense, combining fun with huge emotional oomph, The Full Monty, on stage just as on screen, is the show that’s got the lot – and fantastically for Southampton, it offers yet more proof that the Mayflower is an excellent venue for drama and not just musicals on which its reputation currently lies.

It’s a question of getting the right plays, and that’s what the Mayflower is now consistently doing.

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