Sheffield Strippers win the hearts of Bristol in The Full Monty
As the seats filled up and the lights went down around two thousand women - oh, and a fair few men, were treated to a hilarious and brilliant adaption of The Full Monty, which opened at the Hippodrome on Monday night.
The stage version had a lot to live up to. The 1997 film ripped up the rule book when it took on an era of broken dreams and political strife, and balanced it with perfectly timed comedy and outright bawdiness, to become one of the most successful British films of all time.
Simon Beaufoy had the task of taking his Oscar nominated film to stage and he has triumphed. From the first scene, set in a derelict and decaying steel factory, the play took the best elements of the film version and, dare I say it, made them even better. The tale of proud Northern men fighting to reclaim their dignity in the face of unemployment and despair rang out truer than ever in front of an audience which laughed, cried and, at times, bayed for more.
For the few that don't know the story The Full Monty takes the distinctly un-sexy industrial setting of Sheffield and its very own bunch of likely lads and manages to juggle unemployment, politics, despair, impotence, working men clubs, sex and stripping into a funny, heart wrenching and poignant performance which played the audience beautifully. And love it the Bristol audience did, roaring out their approval as the unlikely strippers went through their paces against the backdrop of Robert Jones's fabulous set - which swung between a derelict steel mill, dole office, conservative and working men's club with effortless ease.
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The highlights were all there, including the famous Hot Stuff sequence in the dole office, and the subtle differences in Beaufoy's script never left you hankering after the film version. On stage the actors were excellent - from Kenny Doughty who took on the role of ringleader Gaz with cocky gusto, to Kieran O'Brien as Guy who had the good grace to accept the fact that he was always going to be upstaged by his over-sized appendage.
Predictably the atmosphere ramped up after the interval. Everyone knew what was coming and boy did the final scene deliver. The audience erupted as the clothes were ripped off, and the grand finale was - well you'll have to go and see for yourselves to see how they pulled it off.
If the actors had any doubts about stripping off on stage, the sight of the audience on their feet whooping and hollering their approval would surely have put paid to any first night nerves.