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Culture: A flash of inspiration to stage The Fully Monty once again; Theatre.

Byline: JOHN SLIM'S AMATEUR THEATRE

The ground-breaking decision by Worcester Operatic & Dramatic Society to present The Full Monty in successive years, to which I referred on August 6, is a response to the full houses that were attracted to last year's run and a recognition of a show that has become its own kind of cult.

It is the story of redundant steelworkers and their families in the wake of redundancy notices. It has laughs, it has fears, it has tenderness - none of which, I suspect, matters overmuch to its core audience, the girls'-night-out legions of Monty misses who go out as a gaggle for a giggle.

Not that the show's final moment should provide a giggle if the lighting's requirement for a black-out is met as quick as a >ash and quicker than the >ash for which the girls have been waiting from six brave actors.

Nevertheless, it is because of what is effectively a nothing moment that The Full Monty has established its reputation and can be guaranteed buzzing box office telephones. The girls don't care that what they don't see is what they get: for them, it's the thrill of the chase that matters, coupled with the off-chance that perhaps the lighting might be just a little slow - which in fact happened the night I watched the six WODYS wondermen last year.

La Cage Aux Folles is similarly successful with its own special appeal to homosexuals. The 1983 musical, featuring male lovers and an all-male chorus line in star-spangled dresses and cracking the occasional whip, turns any theatre into a gays-a-go-go venue with a full house on the instant.

It's all enough to make the average heterosexual male feel grossly overlooked in the world of theatre, because as far as I know there is no big-stage equivalent of places like the lap-dancing bars that cater for the inquisitive, the impotent and the boys' nights out. Incidentally, impotent has turned up in the Washington Post's annual competition to provide alternative meanings for words - in this case, willy nilly.

And, reverting to WODYS, which was struggling three weeks ago to find someone to play the black man called Horse in its October re-run of The Full Monty, it is good to report that Winston Shillingford has come to the rescue.

He is 45, a one-time personal trainer who lives in Worcester and who was encouraged by his friends to audition for the part of Horse in response to the appeal for a black actor to take it on. The show is scheduled from October 14-18 at the Swan Theatre, Worcester.

I called Stratford's Bard to help me last week in defending Jeremy Paxman against irate Scots in a London newspaper. Obviously, he could have managed very well without me: in any verbal encounter, the Newsnight man believes that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

But in describing Robert Burns as the king of doggerel he touched a chord within me. As I pointed out, Burns was the man who managed to rhyme beast, breast and hastily in the space of three lines in a verse about a mouse.

I surmised that Shakespeare would probably have given his eye teeth to have been able to take a day off from poetry in order to write stuff that gave such a fair indication of the minimal thought and effort that had gone into it - unless, as I also surmised, Burns could get away with it because he was not writing English.

And I don't like bagpipes either, though I continue to wait hopefully for somebody to write them a second tune.

Hazel Evans, arts director of Sutton Arts Theatre, saw the inaugural production in June by Walsall's Fellowship Players of Oysters and Snails, the excellent new comedy by Players member Philip Holyman - and now she has asked for the script so that she can study it as a first step to another possible airing.

It will need the approval of the other eight members of the SAT arts directorate, but this is nevertheless good news for a very funny play.

Coincidence is a wonderful thing!

On the day that brought the news that Gary Glitter had begun his circuitous return to Britain, I was with the Swan Theatre Amateur Company in Worcester for the launch of its production of The Memory of Water, by Shelagh Stephenson.

And leaping out of the script, as large as life, was Gary Glitter, his predilections as yet not pinpointed.

Can you imagine a speech along these lines, in a play about a hypochondriac?

"I'm drowsy, I keep falling asleep, I can't concentrate, I'm always weary, with blurred vision and feeling sick. I have diarrhoea, difficulty in passing water, headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, palpitations, irregular hart beats, low blood pressure, tight chest, stomach pain and indigestion.

"I've lost my appetite, my skin and eyes are going yellow, I've got itchy rashes and too much phlegm, and I'm sensitive to light.

"I twitch, I have muscular weakness and poor co-ordination, ringing in my ears, depression, irritability and nightmares, and I get over-excited.

"I also find that I'm getting more frequent sore throats, infections and nosebleeds, and I'm bruising more easily."

Delivered dolefully and at top speed, it could bring the house down.

I mention it because I was stung by a wasp on Saturday and these are the side effects that my medicine's leaflet says could be in store for me. I hope to be back next week.

johnslim47@aol.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 27, 2008
Words:917
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