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The Full Monty at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 3rd Oct 2016 | View all blogs by Alison Smith

 Alison Smith 3rd October 2016

The Full Monty is not about a group of men stripping off to earn a few well - needed pounds; it is about men divested of their self-esteem, families facing difficulties and communities ruined by closures. Unfortunately Simon Beaufoy’s play is not just a portrayal of the social upheavals of Thatcher’s 80’s; working class unemployment, and the despair and the fear this causes, are still rife in 2016.  The final scene, where the men go the full monty, can also be seen as a metaphor – albeit temporary – of the stripping away of the misery and the dismay of their joblessness and of the emergence of a new relationship between these men. But in fact none are any  closer to finding work and resolving their situation.

 The first scene plunges the audience into a disused steelworks complete with working crane and clanking metal. The stage design by Robert Jones is excellent – with a few changes a working man’s club, a dole office, a conservative club and a street emerge. In the empty plant Gaz (Gary Lucy) and Dave (Kai Owen) try to steal a girder to make some cash.  Gaz needs £600 for outstanding child support to be able to see his son, Nathan. Gaz is the lynch-pin of the group and the impetus behind the Chippendale-like strip is to improve the faltering relationship he has with his son.

 We are introduced to his mates including Dave, complete with beer belly and unhappy sex life, Gerald, (Andrew Dunn), a man with Conservative views, who is afraid to tell his spend thrift wife he is on the dole, and Lomper, ( Anthony Lewis), a closet homosexual.  Nathan, Gaz’s son (Reiss Ward on Press Night) plays his role with a realism not often seen in a twelve-year old and Jean (Fiona Skinner) is outstanding in her role of Dave’s understanding wife. What lifts the story from being depressing? It is the men’s respectful, generous, caring relationships, the raucous language and the earthy humour. The repartee and comic timing are excellent; all these factors come together to make an extremely watchable play. 

And of course there is the music – Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Things, Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff in the dole queue and Tom Jones’ You Can Leave Your Hat On in the finale were joyous and accompanied by some good moves. 

The Full Monty attracts many in its audiences for the stripping scene. The play is much more than this however; it is well written, well-acted and has an underlying message  - the extent to which political power can damage people’s lives.

 The Full Monty is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th October 

0844 871 7652

 Booking fee applies




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