Get undressed to thrill

Roger Morlidge from the cast of The Full Monty, Lyceum, Feb 2-23 2013
Roger Morlidge from the cast of The Full Monty, Lyceum, Feb 2-23 2013

Ian Soutar talks to Roger Morlidge from The Full Monty who doesn’t share his character’s inhibitions about getting his kit off

FULL Monty actor Roger Morlidge has a direct way of introducing himself: “I’m the fat one who wraps himself in clingfilm – I find that’s the easiest answer when people ask me which one I am.”

That is to say in the stage play by Simon Beaufoy premiering at the Lyceum he is playing Dave, the character played by Mark Addy in the 1997 hit movie who is self-conscious about his weight.

It is safe to assume someone who appears in the cast list of the film, East is East as playing a character called Fat Twat is not quite as sensitive. He’s an actor who has often been cast as soldiers or policeman in many screen productions from Downton Abbey to The English Patient. He also had a spell in Coronation Street as Mr Griffin, headteacher of Weatherfield High.

Among a long list of theatrical credits was last year’s appearance at the Royal Exchange in Manchester as Sir Jasper Fidget in The Country Wife,

He has appeared in Sheffield before in the cast of Blue Remembered Hills, Deborah Paige’s first production at the Crucible. “It was a long time ago, my second job out of drama school,” he says.

As one of the steelworkers in The Full Monty who are left desperate after being made redundant and resort to forming a troupe of male strippers, Dave is a man coping with insecurity all round.

“The Full Monty is about masculinity and the feeling of emasculation,” says Morlidge. “When I looked at the story of The Full Monty, it made me wonder what happened to these guys the day after they performed their strip.” That becomes even more poignant in that 20 years have passed since the time of the film and we have the benefit of knowing what has happened to people in that situation.

It is also very much a Sheffield story. “We have all come as non-native Sheffielders - although I am from the North – and sort of gone full steam into the city,” says the Bolton-born actor.

“On one of the first days we were driven around on a bus one to look at places relevant to The Full Monty. Our guide had been a steelworker and now he was driving buses and there’s a whole generation like that.”

Like the characters they play, The Full Monty actors have had to face up to the daunting prospect of baring all. “On the third day we had a closed rehearsal where we all stripped off in front of each other,” says Morlidge.

“It was cleverly done by the choreographer so you didn’t realise that was what you were doing until you had done it. Each of us in turn walked across the room and at the other end removed an article of clothing. When we were naked we reversed the process and put all our clothes back on one by one.

“I have been naked on stage before when I was in David Storey’s The Changing Room at the Royal Court about a Rugby League team. We would come out of the showers with nothing on so I am used to being naked with a gang of men.”

The Full Monty opens on Saturday and runs at the Lyceum in Sheffield until February 23 and then goes on a UK tour.