Band of Gold, Kay Mellors
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 5 January
All girls together against a hostile world.
In adapting her successful mid-nineties TV series Band of Gold for the stage, writer/director Kay Mellor has wisely stayed in period. It’s about prostitutes, working girls, sex workers – whatever the currently acceptable term is – in Lumb Lane, Bradford. They’re not operating at the bottom of the market but certainly towards the lower end.
Frankly, this is an all-girls-together affair. Anita, Rose and Carol (played by Laurie Brett, Gaynor Faye and Emma Osman respectively – all excellent) have their differences but they’re a band of females (the band of gold of the title?) pitted against a hostile world ruled by men. There are a couple of half decent blokes – played by Shayne Ward (Inspector Newall) and Mark Sheals (George) – on offer but there’s no getting away from it: in this one, men are the exploiters, women the exploited.
Presumably, this explains why, in an enthusiastic press night audience, men were heavily outnumbered.
If one excludes a psychopathic killer, top nasty of the evening is Mr Moore (Joe Mallalieu), who, besides being a despicable loan shark, in one scene wears a pair of strangely high-waisted trousers.
The play makes a profoundly provocative assertion. Single parent Gina (a terrific Sacha Parkinson), in hock to Moore, wants to resort to some temporary hustling. But Carol urges her not to – with her looks she can find a regular man any time. Gina’s response is to ask, what’s the difference.
The evening starts with the disembodied voice of playwright Kay Mellor herself apologizing for the explicit language and treatment of her subject matter. It’s an unnecessary courtesy. To your average contemporary playgoer, Band of Gold will be entirely un-shocking. But it’s very well acted, something of a thriller, and quite funny in places – and it packs a disconcerting social punch.
Anita: Laurie Brett
Rose: Gaynor Faye
Steve: Kieron Richardson
Inspector Newall: Shayne Ward
Ian Barraclough: Andrew Dunn
Gina: Sacha Parkinson
Carol: Emma Osman
Joyce: Olwen May
Curley: Steve Carti
Mr Moore: Joe Mallalieu
George: Mark Sheals
Colette: Shareesa Valentine
Ensemble/Understudy: Virginia Byron
Ensemble/Understudy: Mark Parry
Writer/Director: Kay Mellor
Designer: Janet Bird
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor
Sound Designer: Mic Pool
Costume Designer: Yvonne Milnes