ONE of the most beloved British films of all time is currently packing ‘em in down in Southampton in a fantastic new theatrical production from Sheffield Theatres.

Directed by Daniel Evans, it has been written by Simon Beaufoy, the scriptwriter of the hugely popular Sheffield-set 1997 movie, and reworks and remoulds the familiar plot into something which is both reassuringly true to the original and different enough to work on the stage. Its opening, during which key character Gaz (Kenny Doughty) and best mate Dave (Roger Morlidge), accompanied by Gaz’s young son Nathan (Jack Hollington), break into the steelworks which once employed them, is very clever, beginning with a bang and incorporating all the major themes – plus providing a bellylaugh or three.

Robert Jones’ clever stage design easily evolves into all of the necessary locations, from the dole office to the Conservative Club and the police station.

Black comedy merges with slapstick and domestic tragedies throughout as the major players weave their way into the story and the line-up completes. A wonderful Craig Gazey as closeted security guard Lomper does run away with a good few scenes due to his hilariously camp characterisation, but it’s a bit unfair to select favourites when the line-up’s this strong.

Doughty, Morlidge, and Simon Rouse as Gerald are terrific, whilst Ian Mercer, Elaine Glover, Eamonn Fleming and Tracey Babin do a fantastic job multitasking. Rachel Lumberg is warm and real as Dave’s worried wife, Jean.

Only Caroline Carver, as Gaz’s frustrated ex Mandy, and Sidney Cole as Horse don’t quite communicate their roles as well as the rest. But this lack, and a few issues with the sound (the actors aren't wearing radio microphones and are good old fashionedly projecting), won't diminish your enjoyment one iota.  

We all know The Full Monty is not really about stripping – and this treatment is more overtly political, with several pronounced Thatcher digs - but that doesn’t stop several of the show’s standout moments revolving around removing your clothes.

Kieran O’Brien as Guy is the centre of the first jaw-dropping scene, which comes at the end of act one (and caused the audience to continue laughing for a good five minutes of the interval), and the second is, of course, the cleverly-lit full frontal finale.

This is a cracking show, one for the lads as well as the ladies.

Tickets: 02380 711811,