Tag Archives: Craig Gazey

“The Full Monty” at the Noël Coward Theatre

Already a triumph in its hometown of Sheffield, The Full Monty received its London premiere last night. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from his own hugely successful 1997 screenplay, this is yet another safe bet for a West End hit. It’s all about auditions at the moment, and this well-loved story of unemployed steel workers who decide to become strippers deftly uses rehearsals and try-out tribulations to build to the (quite literal) denouement. It’s so well done, in fact, that any cynicism is blown away: this is a terrifically fun show with a big heart that London should love.

On a technical level, The Full Monty is a masterclass in direction from Daniel Evans. He’s always a treat to see on stage as an actor and, with a string of achievements as artistic director at Sheffield Theatres, he has firmly established his talents behind the scenes as well. Here he excels, pacing the show perfectly, balancing its humour with emotional impact.

Evans has secured superb performances from his talented cast. Kenny Doughty leads as charismatic lad-about-town Gaz, desperate for cash to pay maintenance so he can see his son. Roger Morlidge gives a sensitive performance as his cumbersome best friend, and there’s a cracking cameo from Rachel Lumberg as the latter’s wife. Their former foreman-turned-choreographer is played with satisfyingly dryness by Simon Rousse, the only Conservative voter in sight. To suit broader tastes there’s fine work from Sidney Cole, Craig Gazey and Kieran O’Brien, who is accompanied by a gasp-worthy prosthetic addition.

Of course it’s crude – it’s about strippers after all – and some jokes show their age. A couple of scenes carried over from the film are weak, simply feeding a desire to see the movie recreated on stage. More impressive are new touches; an expanded exploration of a gay relationship and the use of Robert Jones’ nimble set, which sees cranes, girders and sparking machinery used to great effect.

The laughs are plentiful but, beyond the giggles, Evans uses Beaufoy’s scenario to explore all manner of sensitive issues, from gender roles to unemployment. This celebration of men of all shapes and sizes is a real make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry treat with plenty to think about. In fact, it’s a refreshing blast of Northern wind.

Until 14 June 2014

Photo by Hugo Glendinning

Written 26 February 2014 for The London Magazine

“Third Floor” at the Trafalgar Studios

It’s a truism that Londoners are obsessed with property. The London Magazine itself is testament to that fixation. And our neighbours fascinate as well. Third Floor, a new play by Jason Hall about two young neighbours in a part-buy scheme, looks at the fears and quirks that result in the way we live now. It’s commendably topical and guaranteed to strike a chord with anyone living in the capital.

Hall is a talented writer and his script a fine one. Third Floor is funny, with strong observational humour about the social mores of communal living. And it is dramatic – as the new neighbours start to learn about, and subsequently fear, one another. The connection between the two is disappointing though: despite frequent references to Hitchcock, this short play lacks suspense.

And yet there are fine performances to enjoy. The two cast members are identified by where they live (aren’t we all?) and Craig Gazey plays ‘11’. He’s the kind of guy who reminds you that inhibitions can be useful. Revelling in the extravert nature of his character, Gazey gets plenty of laughs. Along the corridor Emily Head is ‘12’. One of the nicest characters I’ve seen on stage for quite a while, she might be prim and officious, but she is hugely endearing, and Head performs the well-written, well-rounded character, wonderfully.

The neighbours unite in acrimony over the resident of flat 10, whose crime is to leave bin bags in the communal corridor. Events escalate and there’s a twist, but it’s the humour that makes Third Floor worth watching; the politics of post-it notes left as complaints and the psychology of doormats! I am obliged to point out the benefits of a competent managing agent – who would surely have prevented the problems that number 12 runs into – although admittedly it wouldn’t have led to such a good play.

Until 5 November 2011


Photo by Matt Crockett

Written 14 October 2011 for The London Magazine