They’ve done it again at the New Wimbledon Theatre – another brilliant show! Really, this is becoming a habit. It’s about time they put on a turkey, to give me something to complain about for a change. This time, the only difficult thing has been deciding which category to put The Full Monty in. It does embrace unemployment, depression, suicide, impotence, child access disputes and other issues which are normally thought to be no laughing matter, but in the end I had to plump for Comedy. This play is really funny, although some of the humour is pretty black.
You can be serious about it if you like, though. It does tackle important social issues, such as the demise of Britain’s heavy industry and the emasculation of the skilled working class. Set in Sheffield at the end of the Thatcher era, it features a disparate bunch of plain-speaking Yorkshiremen made redundant by the closure of the steelworks, and too proud to take low-paid, unskilled work filling shelves in supermarkets and the like. Who would have thought that they could recover their self-esteem and find new hope by imitating The Chippendales and taking their kit off in front of an unruly audience of local lasses?
The large (as usual) audience in Wimbledon last night was pretty uninhibited too. The distaff side showed their appreciation with whoops and catcalls as the unlikely lads overcame their own inhibitions and started peeling off. They were able in the end to strut their stuff pretty well, with disco dancing being the main influence, but not all the discs being disco. There was great music to dance to, and not just the well-known You Sexy Thing. The wives and girlfriends on the stage had no trouble with inhibitions either. I now have some idea what steps a woman may have to take after drinking too much and being caught short …
Many people will remember the original movie, which came out in 1997. I thought this stage version was better. One warms to the disparate characters, with their earthy language and wry humour, more easily on the stage than on the screen. The sets are great, but best of all, the script is top notch. You’ll have to prick up your ears (if you’ll pardon the expression) to catch all the jokes.