It’s not Kay Mellor’s first rodeo adapting her TV hits for the Leeds Grand Theatre stage. At least Fat Friends The Musical was meant to be funny.
I’ve not seen the TV version of Band of Gold, so I can’t comment on how different the adaptation is. But the stage show focusses on four women each linked to prostitution in Bradford in the 90s. When one of them gets murdered, there’s a bit of a whodunnit and then it all gets forgotten about so they can start up a legit cleaning business.
The show completely trivialises the plights of these women, not necessarily glamourising prostitution but certainly not dissuading people from it either (strange and pretty unmotivated murder aside). There’s a particularly bizarre and totally incongruent ending. It’s silly moments like this that steal away any poignancy or gritty message.
The cast are all average at best, which is a shame because their previous credits have been, well, a credit to them. Gaynor Faye is brash and stereotyped as the “leader of the Lane” Rose. Laurie Brett plays the naive and frankly irritating Anita, Sacha Parkinson shows an unbelievable amount of gall as the down-and-out Gina and Emma Osman as Carol really needs to tone down the drawling Yorkshire accent. It’s like every sentence she speaks is on auto-pilot.
For what’s meant to be an emotive piece, there’s little emotion to be had. Shayne Ward reincarnates Corrie’s personality-less Aiden as Inspector Newall and Mark Sheals’ portrayal of George is amateurish and brass. The only actor worth having in my opinion is Andrew Dunn as bad lad Ian Barraclough. He’s the only one that shows any level of naturalism and believability. Following him is Kieron Richardson as the aggressive Steve, a bit over the top but at least showing a bit of passion.
The whole thing feels a little like a vanity project, a group of mates from the industry putting together a play for a bit of fun. I really don’t see this one going far beyond Leeds, where no doubt endless Mellor fans will sing Band of Gold’s praises. It’s all a little too sycophantic for my liking.
Next year, all I want for Christmas is a heartwarming, festive musical.
Catch Band of Gold at Leeds Grand Theatre until 14th December.