‘The Full Monty’, we have all heard the expression, or so one would think! I was totally oblivious to the expression ‘full monty’ until I was kindly told by a friend, which got me in a panic – the thought of having to watch men stripping on stage! However, when educating myself on the plot and researching the social context of the show, it proved to be much more than that.
Not knowing much about ‘The Full Monty’ when researching the general plot and characters, it is based on Simon Beaufoy’s award-winning play, which itself was based on the smash hit 1997 film. Covering a combination of hard-hitting issues which the men face in 1980’s Sheffield, such as suicide with the character Lomper, marital problems with Gaz and even body confidence related issues.
I was especially intrigued by Lomper’s character. He is the youngest of the group and his character explores the darker side of what unemployment did in the 80’s where society was not as open as it is now with matters such as suicide.
Ahead of the musical’s run at The Regent Theatre we spoke to Joe Gill, who plays Lomper and James Redmond, who plays the part of Guy.
Their characters share a unique bond which none of the others share. Society was not as open about homosexuality as it is today, the fear of ‘coming out’ is explored greater in Hill’s production than in the 90s film.
Commenting on the introduction of his character, Gill says: “My character is introduced in a dark way, I actually hang myself on stage and it does look grim, it looks real.
“For my character, the whole journey for him starts off trying to take his own life and then ends up stripping, his journey is incredible!”
There is also the relationship which Lomper and Guy have, which sets them apart from the other characters.
Gill says: “I think what is cool is that in the film, Guy and Lomper’s relationship isn’t explored as much in the film as it is in the play.
“We have quite a powerful scene, which is almost pinnacle for both of our characters in the play, which was written for the play.
“So, I think in a sense, for my character (Lomper), the relationship and sexuality of our characters is actually explored more in the play, than it is in the film.
Redmond then said: “The film was a huge hit in the late 90’s, it did very well in the States also.
“It is about six guys struggling with their problems, whether it is them losing their job or marital problems – they are so desperate for money they do this dance.
“So, it is actually a really good story, very funny but moving, it is hijacked by the final last two minutes, which is the strip – which is great fun!”
Louis Emerick, who has played Horse before in previous productions, however when referring to this production which is directed by Rupert Hill, said: “It has been the fourth time I have ‘got on the Horse if you like’.
“I have known Rupert for about 10 years, but I remember when I first started, I thanked him for getting my mojo back.
“You can sometimes get this job and think it is the same old thing. He has brought fresh eyes and that has given me fresh eyes.
“Rupert took us all back to remember how desperate these guys were. Focusing on the devastation in communities like this in the mid-80s and kept reminding us to go back in our heads to convey that, because it is easy for it to get lost.
“It was good that he (Hill) did that because I did forget that.”
When asked about how he approached striking the right balance of comedy and showing the suffering the characters went through Emerick adds: “The thing is that the comedy comes out of suffering through hard times when there were very little jobs around and it was quite bleak.
“And during those times, in order to get you through the depression and through what it is called ‘gallows humour’.
“So, it isn’t what you call telling jokes as in ‘ha ha’ but some of the lines are amusing but it is out of a desperate situation.”
The Full Monty is at the Regent Theatre, Hanley from Monday 19 November to Saturday 24 November 2018.
For more information and to book tickets visit AGT Tickets’ website.