Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
What an evening reminiscing a story from my late teens!
I was a little unsure how a series on TV following the lives of prostitutes could be re-written to become a successful stage show within 2 hours and was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a hard-hitting show but instead watched a show with northern humour and light-hearted touches to bring the show alive. However, this was a serious playing following the lives of women working the oldest professional of all times.
From memory, the show does not follow “the TV series” script closely but yet shows a snap-shot of the lives of those who find themselves working the lanes; Rose (played by Gaynor Faye) was a pure delight to watch and really made me appreciate a quality performance. The way in which she showed class at the same time as the need for her next “fix” and longing for her long-lost daughter Collette (played by Shareesa Valentine) was a performance masterclass for me, and this star-studded cast brough the show to life, and often made me feel I was watching a new TV series, this was only aided by a number of faces that you recognise from TV series!
Virginia Byron (playing Anita) was brilliant, and you really felt the love she had for her George and the pain she felt with sharing him with his wife. This was also reflected in the strong female cast which took you on their journey to survival; working the streets, hiring rooms to earn an income to feed and clothe their families. As a 1990s drama there were elements of the script which reflected the times, and that women were often unable to voice their needs, wants or were subdued into being in violent relationships. But yet, this show proved how much society has moved on, how women (and men) no longer have to face being oppressed due to their gender and that women are strong and can achieve their goals, and gain cleaning contracts. I saw this show as a great reflection on feminism and that although the language used in the show, would not be accepted now in society is demonstrated on the changes we now see everyday life.
It was only the second half when Shane Ward (Inspector Newall) made an entrance. However, as this is a strong female leading cast it was appropriate that the men took a back seat and watched the women in particular Carol (played by Emma Osman) show how strong, resilient and emotive they can be, to provide for their families. We were taken on a short journey of Carol’s life post Inspector Newhall life and how his return had upset her, with revelations about her feelings being made. I truly felt for Carol, for all she was trying to achieve and her need to keep the house clean for her daughter and keep her away from the “family business”.
I felt that the ending was quite abrupt, with the murderer being finally revealed and that a little bit more time on the confession would have made the ending sit more comfortably for me. However, this does not distract from an amazing performance.
The staging was made up of a series of sliding doors and moving furniture which made you feel like you were observing in a bar or peeping through a window.
The music has the audience singing along, before and during with lots of “famous” hits being played and sang.
Overall, I am so glad that I got to see this and would recommend it to anyone! It was a star-filled performance demonstrating amazing acting, staging and script. I would give Kay Mellor’s Band of Gold 5 out of 5.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Kay Mellor’s Band of Gold is at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 10-15 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/birmingham or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
The Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS