Shrieking, catcalls, cackling laughter and a standing ovation characterised the response to Simon Beaufoy’s production of the Full Monty on its opening night this week. Based on the 1997 film, the story follows a group of redundant steelworkers trying to make money any way they can. ‘Gaz’, effortlessly portrayed by Gary Lucy, hears the women’s screams in the audience for a Chippendale show and gathers a group of the locals, who’re as desperate for money as him, to form their own strippers group- The Bums of Steel.
Each sub-plot, like the main action, is perfectly balanced to evoke eruptions of laughter throughout, whilst also presenting moments that pull on the heart strings. In both of these aspects of the production Reiss Ward, playing ‘Gaz’s’ son ‘Nathan’, shines bright on stage as he naturally portrays both the sweet loving and the cheeky berating son.
As for the chaps at the heart of the action, they were a perfect comic delight throughout. The black humour surrounding the dopey Lomper’s (hilariously portrayed by Anthony Lewis) attempted suicide had the audience in stitches.
‘You could drown yourself?’… ‘I can’t swim.’
Moping Lomper matched with the larger than life Chris Fountain, whose presence on stage as Guy was captivating, made for a great pair. The rest of the gang were a brilliant mix of all shapes and size and the lead up to the final strip of the finale showed them gyrating and lunging around the stage with no shame whatsoever. I think that’s why the crowd loved it and connected with them so well. As they prepared for their entrance, it was entertainingly announced that they had ‘St. Johns Ambulance on stand-by.’
The atmosphere was set, we in the audience were now the screaming fans at the working men’s club awaiting the grand finale. And oh they did not disappoint. In one moment, they threw their shirts into the audience and women were leaping to grab them like wild animals. Amusingly, everyone seemed to be in a hot flush, fanning themselves afterwards and it was completely agreed that the crew had put on a hilariously fabulous, and very steamy, show. Make sure to catch the tour if you can.
(Images courtesy of The Leeds Grand)