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The Full Monty review (The Marlowe Theatre)

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The theatrical adaptation of the hit 1990s film ‘The Full Monty’ has been touring UK theatres for 2023 – 2024 and this week the tour comes to an end, finishing with 7 performances at the Marlowe Theatre here in Canterbury. Adapted for the stage by Simon Beaufoy and with a recommended age of 14+ given the adult themes and depiction of suicide, I had the opportunity to review the production on press night and I can confirm that it is a fantastic piece of theatre. Ahead of the performance I was wondering if the company and creative team would be able to recreate the magic of the film, but from the first presentation of Jasmine Swan’s set design and character introductions, it was obvious that we were in for a treat!

The Full Monty banner outside The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

A masterclass in building anticipation

The story of ‘The Full Monty’ is no secret, but what I found most impressive was how the creative team have crafted the whole play to build up to the big striptease finale. Starting off slow with a focus on introductory dialogue, we are introduced to Gaz (Danny Hatchard), his son Nathan (Cass Dempsey, Theo Hills, Rowan Poulton and Jack Wisniewski), Dave (Neil Hurst) and the local community who have been rocked by the closing of the steel mine. Gaz owes his former partner child support for Nathan and after learning of the financial success of a recent stripper act at a local pub, he sets his sights on forming his own troupe. Hoping that this will be the answer to his money trouble and allow him to retain joint custody, Gaz enlists his son as the group’s manager and they set out to audition other potential dancers.

For many, the excitement for this production will come from the famous stripteases, but it is brilliant to see that the creatives haven’t let this be the only element that carries the show. There is plenty of time for character development and the poignant underlying themes, including mental health, unemployment and body confidence to name but a few.

The Full Monty leaflet outside The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Industrial-inspired design

Jasmine Swan’s set design is inspired, making use of steel and construction site structures in creating the derelict steel mill, the ‘job club’ (job centre), Conservative Club, local pub and more. It is extremely innovative how these structures can be repurposed to represent many contrasting locations, the only differences between each are unique layouts, custom configurations and the careful selection of smaller scale props and freestanding furniture. This combined with Sheffield skyline backdrops and Andrew Exeter’s warm lighting design, makes The Full Monty a visually pleasing show.

Scene transitions

The only drawback to the commendable set design is the slightly laboured movement of set pieces during the scene changes. The transitions are lengthy, with the performers and production team positioning the different elements of staging themselves. Lighting is used to add variety during the changeover of locations, but even with alternating colourful backdrops, the transitions still come across as a little slow. That being said, choosing to play iconic 80s tunes in these moments is a brilliant way to stay true to the time period and the music that would’ve been popular in the early 90s.

The Full Monty ticket and programme in front of the stage at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Cast performances

It goes without saying that the entire cast are absolutely fantastic, specifically the young performer who played Nathan on press night and the core line up of lads from Sheffield: Danny Hatchard (Gaz), Neil Hurst (Dave), Bill Ward (Gerald), Lomper (Nicholas Prasad), Ben Onwukwe (Horse) and Jake Quickenden (Guy). From Dave’s sensitive speeches about body image to Horse’s killer hip action, you can’t help but rally for these down to earth characters. Moments where the cast shine are the renowned job centre queue sequence and the police scenes where the group are caught in a compromising position.

The Full Monty programme outside The Marlowe Theatre at night, Canterbury

A guaranteed uplifting night at the theatre!

The Full Monty really works as a stage production, bringing with it a new sense of anticipation to the source material. Led by a stellar principal cast, the camaraderie on stage is so natural, making this the perfect show to see with a group of friends. It manages to be both hilarious and sincere, highlighting many important topics through a comedy lens. The play is based in Canterbury until Saturday 13th April, with last minute tickets available via the Marlowe Theatre’s website. If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend in Kent, the UK tour of The Full Monty should be top of your list!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*My ticket for The Full Monty was gifted in exchange for an unbiased review.



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