It might be a show based on men getting their kit off but that’s never been the point of The Full Monty. Stephen Dunstan saw the stage adaptation of the classic film at Blackpool Winter Gardens

It’s over a quarter of a century since the release of the British film comedy The Full Monty. It remains one of my favourite films, the racy finale coming at the end of a warm portrait of a community following the closure of the Sheffield steel plants. Tonight a stage adaptation of the film by the original screenplay writer Simon Beaufoy came to the Winter Gardens, a more adult offering before Shrek comes to town for the Christmas period.

If you don’t know the plot – a group of unemployed men down on their luck form a rag tag alliance to do a striptease performance at the local working men’s club. When it becomes clear that they are going to have to go all the way in removing clothes (aka the full monty) there are some tensions in the group but also a warmth and camaraderie that wins through.

I was interested to see how faithful to the original the play would be. In short it’s pretty faithful to the film plot, if you loved the film and hope for more of the same you won’t be disappointed. That said there are certain significant twists on the original. In particular there’s a departure with the character who goes by the moniker ‘Horse’, but I won’t spoil it for you if you go.

The cast is described as ‘featuring a hot man for everyone’. Hot men aren’t really my bag but I could see what they meant.

The Full Monty isn’t a musical, there’s no singing at all, but the original film boasted an outstanding soundtrack including feel-good numbers by the likes of M People as well as the timeless The Stripper by Joe Loss and his orchestra. This production includes all of those, and the tracks most famous from key points in the film – You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate and Hot Stuff by Donna Summer. If anything the tracks that have been supplemented to these enhance the production, and in a nice touch they include several Sheffield bands – most notable The Human League and Pulp.

As we stood in the foyer waiting to watch the show a friend of my guest for the evening expressed surprise there were so many men in the waiting audience. I have to say this in turn surprised me. I’ve always seen The Full Monty as a brilliant film and not aimed largely at a female audience. Ironically though there is a reference in the film and the play to the strippers not expecting a few men in the audience. As the action moved to its inevitable conclusion this meant that some of the audience were getting more excited than others…

The cast is described as ‘featuring a hot man for everyone’. Hot men aren’t really my bag but I could see what they meant. Danny Hatchard has previously been in Eastenders, Bill Ward in Coronation Street and Emmerdale and Ben Onwukwe even in The Shawshank Redemption. It was clear that Jake Quickenden (X Factor, Dancing On Ice) was the main eye candy of choice, and he delivered a confident performance to live up to that billing.

Clearly this show features some adult themes, including, obviously, some nudity and some swearing. There is some gallows humour (almost literally) relating to a suicide attempt that might be triggering for some people. But ultimately, like the film, that’s not what it’s really about – it’s about triumph over adversity and the human condition. Well ok, it’s also about men getting their kit off in front of women but you get my point. If you want a feel good night out in the run up to Christmas The Full Monty is certainly recommended.

The Full Monty is at The Winter Garden’s Opera House until Saturday 9th December. Click here for tickets.

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