Review: The Full Monty, Theatre Royal Brighton

“You’ve got knockers and we’re after knobs”

Who knows why the West End run of The Full Monty lasted barely a month, I suspect the truth will never fully be known. But that was far from the end for the show, which is now midway through an extensive UK tour which does feel more like a natural home for Simon Beaufoy’s play – for me, jokes about knobs and knockers sit better on the seafront here than they ever would on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Which isn’t meant as a diss, just recognising the varying tastes of audiences and they were the key to my enjoyment of this evening – a carefree, whooping barrel of laughs coming left right and centre from a theatre full of people simply enjoying themselves. It’s a special thing to feel this sort of connection and I’m not sure if we get it that often in London theatres, or at least the ones I go to.

I mean yes, you can cavil at how the play is different from the film – how the men’s unemployment isn’t taken seriously enough, how the decline of the industrial north isn’t explored, how the seedy nature of the world of stripping isn’t interrogated – but that is not to recognise that this is just a different beast. It may not have the same intellectual integrity but it certainly has more than enough heart and humour in Daniel Evans’ production.

It’s fun (I’d forgotten the gay storyline that runs through the narrative – Rupert Hill and Bobby Schofield both delivering sensitive but strong performances), it’s silly (Martin Miller’s Dave and Louis Emerick’s Horse both get the laughs), it’s pleasant to look at (Gary Lucy is way too buff and beautiful but no one is complaining!) and it is also moving at times – Andrew Dunn nailing the depth of Gerald’s depression.

So celebrate it for what it is, not what you thought it might be. I’m the first to admit that I’m guilty of such crimes but on this occasion, bolstered by a cracking seafood dinner beforehand, a go on the coin pusher machines in the arcade and a whole dollop of Brighton bonhomie from a raucously receptive audience, there’s something hugely enjoyable here and for once, it is London that is missing out.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Matt Crockett
Booking until 13th December, then continuing to tour to Milton Keynes Theatre, Swansea Grand Theatre, Woking New Victoria Theatre, Bradford Alhambra Theatre, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Sunderland Empire, Leicester Demontfort Hall, Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall Theatre, Llandudno Venue Cymru, Ipswich Regent Theatre, Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre, High Wycombe Swan, Bristol Hippodrome, Dartford Orchard, Carlisle Sands Centre and Sheffield Lyceum

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