I'm a sucker for a crime drama. So, when my mum started getting excited about a show called Band of Gold coming to The Lowry in Salford, based on a three-series crime drama of the same name from Kay Mellor, I was instantly looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about.
Mellor was returning to stage work following the success of Fat Friends The Musical, and brought Gaynor Faye, Laurie Brett and Emma Osman on board to take on the three iconic female lead roles, first made famous by Geraldine James, Barbara Dickson and Cathy Tyson. Sacha Parkinson and Olwen May rounded out the female cast as daughter and mother Gina and Joyce; the former of whom finds herself drawn into a line of work she never once thought she'd be a part of.
Each of these women bring confidence and charisma to the stage. Their characters are all wholly different to one another, whether that be in their personality, swagger, or simply the way they stand. The performers take it upon themselves to distinctly define their roles through each and every scene, never letting up on the realistic approach they take in conveying what life is like for women who work the street.
In her first major role, Osman is a clear standout. She's got impeccable comedy timing, and is relatable in her struggle for a better life for both her and her young child. She's been a woman in love, but also a woman scorned. It's fair to say she's lived quite the life, despite still being in her 20s.
Kieron Richardson is brilliant as Gina's snarling husband Steve. He unsettles the nerves across the theatre whenever he appears on stage, utterly believable as a man who used his strength and physical power to keep his wife in line, whether that be with his hurtful words, or damaging fists. Tension is palpable when he spits his venom, as the audience expect him to lash out at any given moment.
Shayne Ward is also great as Inspector Newall, though a little underused. It would have been nice to see his relationship with Osman's character Carol explored a little more thoroughly, though it's understandable the cuts that will have had to have been made, bringing an entire first series of a TV show to the theatre.
With a cast that also includes the fantastic Andrew Dunn, Steve Garti, Joe Mallalieu, Mark Sheals and Shareesa Valentine, it's clear that Mellor is on to a winner. Not a single member of the cast lets the production down.
The set and stage design is simple, yet effective. It quickly and easily transports the audience from the comfort of the local Bradford pub where the ladies pick up clients, to the Lane; a dangerous section of the city that should only be trodden in groups of two or more.
Mellor has excelled in bringing her series to the stage; now I'm off to Amazon to pick up the original series and get binging!
Kay Mellor's Band of Gold is at The Lowry in Salford until Saturday, January 25th, 2020.