Sunday, July 14

The Full Monty – Bradford Alhambra

The Full Monty was one of a group of films shining a light on the traumatic impact Thatcherism had on Northern communities, but unlike the risible Billy Elliot it did it by never pulling its punches.

Simon Beaufoy has adapted his movie script for a stage version of how six jobless Sheffield blokes fought back to become unlikely strippers and let it all hang out to pay off their debts. The stage version is far funnier than the film, although it still tackles some big themes including class, suicide, ageism, body shaming, gay visibility, and the utter corrosion of the human spirit when you’re cast on the scrapheap. Beaufoy wisely still holds it together round the core theme that hope can spring from despair in often the most unlikely of ways like getting your kit off.

For fans of the movie all the key scenes are here, including a brilliantly staged scene in the local dole office where the strippers unconsciously practice their dance moves standing in line, which won gales of laughter from a particularly up for it Yorkshire audience who just got this play.

All six of the wannabe strippers are strong performers, and like their characters knowing they are going to get naked in front of hundreds of strangers has clearly bonded them. They really work Jasmine Swan’s versatile set that is one moment a depressing ‘job club’ and then a closed down steel mill where the guys rehearse.

Photo: Ellie Kurtz

Danny Hatchard leads this unlikely gaggle of (non) Adonis as Jack the Lad Gaz who came up with the idea to pay overdue alimony, yet he rightly doesn’t shy away from him being a feckless single dad to Nathan.  Neil Hurst as his chunky best mate Dave is a natural comic winning plenty of the big laughs bouncing off Hatchard really naturally, but also getting to the heart of what unemployment has cost him.

Corrie legend Bill Ward wonderfully plays against type as social climbing stripper Gerald who is so ashamed of losing his white collar job he leaves every day for a non-existent job. Ripped Jake Quickenden may have the best body on show getting more than a few wolf whistles, but he brings all his soap experience to a man mourning his boyfriend despite all the glitz.

Classy Ben Onwukwe rolls back the years with a witty turn as Horse and Nicolas Prasad is great fun as the naïve and closeted Lomper.  In a strong supporting cast Katy Dean manages to cut through the testosterone as Dave’s loving wife Jean, and local lad Theo Hills got lots of laughs on his stage debut as Nathan.  

As the gang strutted on for the climatic final scene this predominantly female audience really got into the spirit of it, and you felt you were actually in a steel city working men’s club as six men regained their pride as they shed layers.

The Full Monty is exactly the sort of feelgood show with a bit of grit thrown in that we need at the moment, and a top quality cast thoroughly deserved their standing ovation for literally having the balls to do the full monty.

The Full Monty is at Bradford Alhambra until Saturday 18th November. To book or 01274 432000.

Reviewer: Paul Clarke

Reviewed: 14th November 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.