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From one extreme to the other…

Well, I certainly can’t fault Malvern Theatres’ determination to cater for a wide spectrum of audience interests. Last week was highbrow; a neo-Shakespearean study of constitutional crisis. This week was quite the opposite – a stage show based on the 1997 film The Full Monty, marketed in the theatre publicity as “Not suitable for polite children under 12”. 

I had a free afternoon on Saturday, so rang the theatre in the morning to see if they had any standby tickets available for the matinée. Not a chance! They told me that they hadn’t even bothered setting a standby ticket price all week, as every performance had only had the odd single seat left. For the matinée, there were just three seats unsold in the whole auditorium, scattered towards the rear of the circle. I took the best available seat, and used my Bronze Membership to get a hefty discount. 

As I feared, the audience was packed full of coach parties of very loud women, mostly in their thirties and forties, who were all utterly determined to have a very good, and extremely raucous, time. There was only a handful of men present, and most of them looked somewhat hen-pecked and clearly were only there to accompany their boisterous female partner. If that was the matinée audience, I can only imagine what the evening lot would be like – especially once they’d got a good few drinks inside them in the interval!

The film had been adapted for the stage by the original writer, and stuck very faithfully to the plot of the film. The set was excellent – a two storey industrial structure that represented the inside of the closed steelworks, that was then customised with a few props to become all the other locations. There was also a very good child actor, playing the main character’s son. He really held his own, and seemed remarkably unperturbed by the baying female mob in the audience. But of course the real stars were the six main characters playing the redundant steelworkers turned male strippers. They were uniformly excellent. The classic scene in the dole queue, where they start tentatively trying out their dance moves to the song on the radio, was extremely funny. 

By the time we got to the final scene in the nightclub where they were going to “Do the Full Monty”, the audience was very, very wound up, clapping and stamping their feet in time to “You Can Leave Your Hat On” as the cast took everything else off. The actors were game for it, and really did go all the way – but were heavily backlit at the critical juncture so you couldn’t actually see anything!

It was a fun way of spending a wet Saturday afternoon!