the-full-montyREVIEW:The Full Monty
Liverpool Empire
by Peter Grant

Based on the box-office hit of the same name, this show about men coping with unemployment was born 20 years ago and has stood the test of time. Simon Beaufoy’s work appeals to all ages – it can shock and hit the heart strings at the same time. Quite an achievement.

This stylish touring version never dips.

The audience – nearly three quarters female – lap up this tale of redundant steel workers having a career change through necessity. On the opening night they had all the fervour of a Donald Trump rally

Six individual characters form a well-rounded story. A cast of established actors from stage and screen make you cheer on their opitimism in this earthy tale of family loyalty, pride, courage and hope. Humour is in abundance.

The writer ws inspoured by Alan Bleasdale and other Northern playwrights and it shows. Gary Lucy as Gaz and Chris Fountain as Guy shine throughout. Gerald’s mid-life crisis is portrayed with the right amount of pomposity and sensitivity. The gnome-loving Gerald (Andrew Dunn) is brow-beaten wife Linda and hasn’t had the heart to tell her he was sacked six months previously.

He leaves the house each morning and spends his time acting out a masquerade as his wife books holidays they can’t afford.

The wonderful scene with fellow job seekers in the signing on centre – faithful to the film -is now a stage highlight for the inventive dance movements.

Reiss Ward, one of the young lads who play Gaz’s son Nathan on rotation, proved an instant hit with the wide-aged group audience. He eggs on his weary dad.

We still shudder at Margaret Thatcher’s defiant, infamous ‘this lady’s not-for-turning’ speech as the curtain raises to reveal an impresive grey and dank, dark, decaying, window-shattered Sheffield steel factory.

It is a picture of desolation where Gaz picks up metal to sell on. On the scrap-heap, indeed. The two-tier set from Robert Jones also becomes a night club and job centre.

The story centres around these resilient Sheffield men who are dumped due to the economic climate. The future is bleak with only supermarket shelf-stacking on offer.

Inspired by the success of The Chippendales they reluctantly decide to create a strip act called The Steel Bums for a one-off show. The auditions are hilarious – yet, real tragi-comedy, too.

Louis Emerick, who is a formidable all rounder since leaving Brookside plays likeable Horse.

Pauline Fleming ,ex of Corrie, plays three roles to perfection – including the hen-pecking Linda, Gerald’s wife.

Ian West provides some creative choreography – funny dance seqences to the music of Donna Summer hits, Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing and the Tom Jones mover and shaker You Can Leave Your Hat On.* Director Jack Ryder leads cast and audience to a fab frenetic ‘fun-ale’ were the brave men of steel get their collective kits off to wild applause and a standing ovation.

A show that will never date.

Steel yourself for a modern day classic.

(5 / 5)

Liverpool Empire till Nov 12
On Nationwide Tour

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