Full Monty delivers the full package
From the cheeky (pun intended) posters, to the preshow publicity featuring strategically placed signs, hats and other items, it’s been clear from the start there will be plenty on show at New Plymouth Little Theatre’s The Full Monty. From the cheers, wolf whistles and generally raucous behaviour, it was also clear from the start of the opening night show exactly what the audience expected to see. Perhaps what wasn’t so expected, was that there is a lot more to this play than just jokes, innuendo and nudity. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of all of that, there is, but there is also plenty of gritty storyline in there too. Topics such as suicide, body image, unemployment, depression, relationships and divorce come under the spotlight just as much as the flesh on show does. With a talented core cast, those issues get their fair share of the spotlight although at times it can feel a little rushed, a fault that lies with the script not the direction. The relationship between father Gaz (played by Jimmy Bouvaird) and son Nathan (Flynn Wilson) is one of the better developed storylines. Both actors are well cast in the roles and they work together well on stage. Brad Duynhoven plays Dave, Gaz’s best friend who is struggling with body image issues. The scenes between Dave and his sympathetic wife Jean (Charlie Couchman) are really well played, with both actors ensuring the issue is actually explored rather than just the butt of a few jokes. Regan Tate plays Lomper, a suicidal security guard who is convinced to join the strip act. Despite the script giving very little space between Lomper being ready to end it all and becoming a key member of the group, Regan makes sure the change is as believable as possible. Tyler McGlone as Guy is a nice pairing with Regan’s Lomper as the two characters form a relationship, and Tyler does a great job in ensuring Guy is more than just the stripper with a good body. Morris West is on form as Gerald, Gaz and Dave’s former foreman at the steelworks, with the veteran actor’s comic timing as excellent as ever. Whether he is being distracted by garden gnomes during a job interview, teaching a group of graceless blue collar workers how to dance or actually strutting his stuff in the striptease component of the show, Morris gives the show his all and it pays off. The sixth member of the wouldbe striptease act is Horse, played by Howard Rozen. Howard is great fun to watch in the role of the ailment ridden, pill popping Horse and his facial expressions are some of the best in the show. The supporting cast, which is a reasonably large one, all do a fantastic job, with some great comedy especially from Karen Janes’ social worker’s reactions to Nathan explaining how his father strips in front of him. The queue in the job club is another moment of great visual comedy, and choreographer April Krijger created some great dance numbers that are funny without being painfully slapstick or cruel. As well as directing the show, John Lawson took on set design and construction, and has created a brilliant, effective set that works well on stage. All of the cast take on the challenge of British accents, but unfortunately not all of them keep them consistent. It’s not terrible, but hearing a working class northern accent morphing into something just off southern Irish at times is distracting, and perhaps it would have been better to leave the accents off completely. Talking of off, it wasn’t the accents but the clothes the audience wanted to see removed, and the play certainly builds up the anticipation throughout. It’s not just six brave men who reveal plenty either, there’s a female bottom or two to be seen as well and every one of the actors involved deserved the loud applause they got on opening night. The play’s title promises the Full Monty, and that’s exactly what the audience get, not just in the highly anticipated moment where the six male leads dance their way through some great choreography to a full frontal finale, but also throughout the play as John Lawson skilfully brings out the best in each actor to also tell a great story rather than leave it hidden behind the naked behinds on show. The Full Monty: New Plymouth Little Theatre, July 11-August 7.