A perfect cure for the January blues: our verdict on The Full Monty in Northampton

The Full Monty, currently playing at the Royal & Derngate
The Full Monty, currently playing at the Royal & Derngate

Emily-Jane Clark reviews The Full Monty at the Royal & Derngate

It’s not often you find yourself sat just a few feet away from six naked bottoms on a Tuesday night, so my trip to watch The Full Monty at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton was certainly a memorable one.

The Full Monty cast in the foyer of the Royal & Derngate

The Full Monty cast in the foyer of the Royal & Derngate

Not just because of the bare bums, but thanks to some brilliant comedy performances and the fun, feel-good atmosphere of the show.

The Full Monty, set in the 1980s, tells the story of best mates Gaz and Dave, who after losing their jobs at a steel factory decide to create their own male strip-tease act to make some money. The two friends recruit four more men and the Bums Of Steel act is born.

The play may be based on the hit 1997 film, but it felt like it was meant to be performed on stage. What better way to create the illusion of nervous men stripping off in front of an audience then by having them perform in front of an audience? This must have made ‘going the full monty’ terrifying - it was only thanks to some genius lighting that the actors managed to (just about) keep their dignity.

However, word of warning to the faint-hearted – prepare for a huge shock when Bum of Steel, Guy (James Redmond), unloads his errrm …package…

The Full Monty cast in the foyer of the Royal & Derngate

The Full Monty cast in the foyer of the Royal & Derngate

I am a big fan of the original film. But I think the live version packs more of a punch and the set, a derelict steel factory, perfectly reflects the sheer grimness and despair of the time.

Actor Gary Lucy (Hollyoaks, The Bill, She’s Gone) took on the role of Gaz (played by Robert Carlyle in the film) and while his Northern accent wasn’t faultless, his charisma and stage presence more than made of for it. All of the ‘Bums Of Steel’ strippers were superb comic actors but my favourite character was Dave (Mark Addy in the movie) played by Kai Owen (Rocket Man, Doc Martin). His acting was the perfect mix of sentiment and comedy and he had the audience in stitches.

Fraser Kelly was fantastic as Gaz’s son Nathan and Andrew Dunn’s (Dinnerladies, 55 Degrees North) portrayal of the straight-laced conservative, Gerald was hilarious.

The Full Monty is the perfect cure for the January blues. It has the feel-good factor, great characters, funny jokes and of course, naked bums!

* The show runs until Saturday January 19. Visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk for details and bookings.