The Full Monty, theatre review: warm-hearted and riotous

Noel Coward Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

Never let it be said that thongs ain't what they used to be.

After a triumphant opening last year at the Lyceum in Sheffield, Simon Beaufoy's stage version of his much-loved 1997 film now gyrates into the West End and looks destined to be as wildly popular as the celluloid original. Deservedly so, by and large.

Daniel Evans's warm-hearted blast of a production is set in a huge, abandoned Sheffield steelworks, monumentally redolent of the scrapheap, Thatcherite Eighties and of the unemployment that has emasculated these skilled workers. 

The comic paradox of men rediscovering a sense of self-worth through the indignities of male striptease perhaps loses some of its double-edged quality when the story is told as live theatre and the audience become whooping co-conspirators through all the various practice sessions. 

But Evans's fine quirky cast, a strikingly disparate bunch who sport some of the most despondent Y-fronts ever seen on a stage, capture the sadness as well as the saucy humour. Kenny Doughty and Jack Hollington snag the heart as wideboy Gaz and the little son whom he has repeatedly let down. 

By the riotous finale, everything is off – including the roof.

To June 14; 0844 482 5141