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Kay Mellor's Band of Gold at Alexandra Theatre - Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Crime thriller translated to stage starring Shayne Ward
It was back in the 1990s, when this drama about streetwalkers in Bradford, was aired as a TV series, gripping viewers on the edge of their seats starring a young Samantha Morton and Cathy Tyson.

Band of gold, Alexandra Theatre birmingham
Kay Mellor's drama premieres on stage

It's taken a while - over 20 years - to transfer this Kay Mellor story to stage, but it now makes its theatre premiere in this UK tour.

I caught Band Of Gold when it stopped off at the Alexandra Theatre for a week's run, until Saturday February 15.

This crime thriller-come-soap opera is set around a group of women involved in working in a red-light district when a murder takes place and puts all their lives at risk.

There's a medley of household names led by a confident Gaynor Faye (from Emmerdale) as long-time prostitute Rose among the strong women in the storyline.

Band of gold, Alexandra Theatre birmingham
A story set in the red light district

Sacha Parkinson (from Mr Selfridge) gives the most emotive performance as struggling single mother Gina but Emma Osman steals the show as straight-talking Carol.

What Kay Mellor does well is her characterisations and at the heart of this story are the women's backgrounds, camaraderie and banter. They all have reasons for turning tricks and that's subtly woven into the plot.

This stage version is much funnier than I remember the TV show being. There's some incredibly funny one-liners continuously thrown out to lighten the undercurrent of gritty topics about debt, poverty, abuse and more.

Although this play is all about the women, there's some famous male actors holding up the rear; none more so than X Factor winner Shayne Ward, which sent a ripple of excitement through the audience when he finally appeared in Act Two.

He's done some acting in Coronation Street and is a suitable romantic interest for Carol. There's also Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson playing someone more unsavoury.

Band of gold, Alexandra Theatre birmingham
Famous faces for the soaps star in the show

The reason to launch this stage version now after such a long time is probably due to the success of another of Mellor's TV shows transformed to stage recently.

Fat Friends The Musical was a sell-out success and Mellor has teamed up with producer Josh Andrews once again for Band of Gold.

Thankfully, it's not a musical, but it does use a soundtrack of relevant hits from the 1980s - when this drama is set - to add atmosphere. There's plenty of in-jokes too about Pretty Woman being on at the cinema along with other nostalgic comments.

Band of gold, Alexandra Theatre birmingham
An unsettling crime thriller

While the murder mystery takes a back seat to the women's lives and their often bizarre sexual encounters, it's a well-balanced piece of theatre.

Band of Gold is an entertaining, well-written piece of entertainment despite its dark storyline. It's got all the signature Mellor themes that never seem to disappoint - most of all, the importance of friendship.

Rating: 3 and a half / 5 stars
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Why? See famous crime TV drama premiere on stage
When: Until February 15
Phone: 020 7206 1179
Where: Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, B5 4DS
Cost: From 13
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