Review: The Full Monty at Manchester Opera House – cheeky, charming, and surprisingly contemporary

In this stage adaptation of the classic 90s film, a mismatched group of lads – down on their luck, out of work and out of money – try their hand at a Sheffield working-class version of the Chippendales.

The Full Monty play follows Gaz (Danny Hatchard) and his best friend Dave (Neil Hurst) as they form a group of guys and prepare for a striptease performance at the local men’s club in an effort to make some quick money.

Simon Beaufoy’s play is part of a tour that celebrates the 25th anniversary of director Peter Cattaneo’s 1997 Fox Searchlight motion picture of the same name – for which Beaufoy wrote the screenplay.

Set against the backdrop of the 90s recession, the play manages to feel contemporary, with the struggles of the characters feeling all too similar to the current cost of living crisis.

The physical comedy throughout was entertaining – especially so in the end when the group performs a mixture of a cheeky striptease and a charmingly mismatched dance routine in front of their audience, which we as the viewers of the play become in a fun fourth-wall break.

Neil Hurst as Dave stood out as one of the funniest performances, with fantastic comedic timing and quick witty one-liners.

The Full Monty, taken on 15 September 2023 in Cheltenham at the Everyman Theatre © Ellie Kurttz

While hunks like Guy, Jake Quickenden, and the timid Lomper (Nicholas Prasad) gave the audience the eye candy they expected, all of the men received plenty of cheers, demonstrating body positivity and sex appeal of different body types and ages.

Despite being based on the 1997 movie and having many scenes and lines directly translated onto the stage, one change in particular stood out as impactful.

The movie plays off Guy’s and Lomper’s sexuality as a quick intimate stare, some handholding, and a one-liner joke.

Refreshingly, the play used the opportunity to elaborate on the characters’ sexualities and comment on the queer context of the time.

Another highlight of the production was the moving set (designed by Jasmine Swan), comprised of structures that slotted together into a variety of different scenes.

While the set was a fantastic construction, the music used during the scene changes felt like an eclectic mixtape of 90s music, trying to drive the 1997 setting home but feeling somewhat forced and out of place.

The play combined fun dance sequences, physical comedy, audience engagement and moments of heartfelt sincerity.

The result was a crowd-enthralling and entertaining play that brought laughter, hollering and even more cheers.

The Full Monty will be performing at the Opera House until 17 February and is a must for fans of the movie or those looking for a good laugh and some cheeky fun.

Tickets are available here.

Feature image: The Full Monty, taken on 15 September 2023 in Cheltenham at the Everyman Theatre. © Ellie Kurttz

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