THE feel good factor has well and truly arrived in Bath, with the no holds barred play The Full Monty.
Based on the 1997 film starring Robert Carlyle, the story follows the desperate lives of six unemployed steel factory workers in Sheffield laid off in the steelworks closures of the early 80s.
A dramatic opening scene featuring the voice of the Iron Lady, blamed for the miners’ strikes and record unemployment levels, takes the audience straight to the heart of this struggling city.
On top of not being able to find work, Gaz (Ken Doughty) faces losing joint custody of his son Nathan (Jack Hollington) if he can’t make the maintenance payments and as a last resort, decides male stripping is the only forward.
He enlists the help of his best friend, the overweight and impotent Dave (Roger Morlidge) as well as suicidal and friendless Lomper (Craig Gazey), over confident Guy (Kieran O’Brien), the rather less endowed Horse (Sidney Cole) and Gerald (Simon Rouse) who despite losing his foreman job six months ago, lives in fear of his credit card happy wife ever finding out.
With only the mere problem of no dancing abilities between them, the hapless group reveal their innermost fears in a play as much about personal struggles and depression as it is fun.
Ken Doughty plays the leader of the group with the perfect mix of recklessness and sincerity, the moments pleading with his young son are some of the most poignant in the production, yet his attempt to impress with his first strip is one of the funniest.
Roger Morlidge is distinctly loveable as he fends off broody wife Jean (Rachel Lumber). In an exposed scene alone on stage, he shows great vulnerability as he wraps himself in cling film in a desperate attempt to lose weight.
Craig Gazey, best known as Graeme Proctor in Coronation Street, steals the show though with his complete transformation into the awkward and self-conscious Lomper. Every mannerism and particularly his whining voice (think Little Britain’s ‘computer says no’) tallies with the geeky, gauche young gay man he is portraying.
Overall it is fun, with more laughs than tears, and many an innuendo but blends just the right amount of working class smut with tender moments everyone can relate to.
The set is impressive with multiple platforms which function as every scene from inside a disused factory to outside of a night club and the recorded soundtrack throughout is uplifting.
If you have seen the film you will know the final scene is racous, as the theatre audience become the first to be treated to the strippers’ full monty performance, so don’t go anticipating a quiet night.
The Full Monty is on at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday, February 15.