When asked if I’d be interested in reviewing ‘The Full Monty’ at Leeds Grand Theatre, I was expecting a night filled with laughter, nudity and more nudity. I was not disappointed.
The production is extremely witty, doubtlessly hilarious – and true to the film. The preservation of the robust Yorkshire accent brought me back to my childhood! A dialect, which anybody south of the Midlands would struggle to understand, gave me a nostalgic glimpse back to my hometown. There was an aura of plain-speaking and blunt honesty from each character which brought the not-so-glamorous charm of Yorkshire to the front and centre of the performance. There’s no surprise that the show has become one of the most phenomenal productions ever.
However, there was also an aspect which seemed to escape my (extremely vague) memory of the film production. The plot covers a whole range of raw, relevant and important subjects in the “City of Steel.” There are aspects of depression, homophobia and the brutality of being an unemployed and impoverished ex-worker in the 70s. I found myself somehow laughing at suicide gags and coming out stories – because the oxymoronic humour of the play takes you by surprise. But, as Simon Beaufoy says himself, “the worse things get, the better the jokes are. It’s a coping mechanism” – true words from the time, which really came to light throughout the performance. The characters discuss these fragile subjects in a manner which makes it just about normal to sit with your mates and have a chat about them. We watched a group of men who had seemed to have lost their sense of place in the world (and their self-respect) figure out a solution which bares all to their neighbourhood and adds a new skill set to their repertoire; stripping.
The key moments from the film were well executed in the production – a favourite being the dodgy dancing queue waiting for the dole money. With other scenes also being created, the play was extremely true to the original performance, without simply duplicating the gags and jokes we’ve all heard before. Simon Beaufoy transforms the film into a perfectly crafted, minimalistic production. The theatrical space is so on point – no handymen, set changers or theatre prompters. Each scene smoothly transitioned into the next, with the characters themselves moving their (albeit minimal) furniture around. This brought another aspect of the all-important political angle to light. The acting is phenomenal. I felt like I was taking a step back in time, with the whole performance being true to the era; the characters, the props, setting, dialect and music. Everything came together to produce a magnificent performance.
Now the question on everyone’s lips before we took our seats in the Grand Theatre – “Do you think they will, you know, do IT?” This truly is a question that you will have to buy a ticket to find out. But I can promise you one thing – you will NOT be disappointed. But be quick, Gary & co are only with us until Saturday. So drop EVERYTHING (pun intended) and grab your tickets whilst you can.
Paige is an MA graduate working in hospitality marketing. She’s a coffee enthusiast, avid foodie and theatre-goer. You’ll probably find her on Instagram @_PaigeEliza