Despite its brisk pace, BAND OF GOLD shines an important light on the realities of poverty, domestic abuse and the sex industry
25 years after it was first broadcast on ITV, multi-award-winning crime drama BAND OF GOLD makes its world premiere on the stage.
Inspired by research into the lives and experiences of sex workers on the streets of Leeds and Bradford, BAND OF GOLD tells the story of four women – Carol, Rose, Anita and Gina – as they battle to survive while working in a notorious red-light district.
Those familiar with the TV series – which ran for three series in the mid-Nineties and captivated over 15 million viewers each week – will recognise similarities in the storyline, the two-hour stage show following a rough plot of the first series.
Moving at a brisk pace, Mellor successfully keeps the tension high, Janet Bird’s simple yet effective movable set transporting the action in televisual style as we jump from the Lane to the character’s homes and the local pub with swiftness and ease.
The appeal of this show undoubtedly lies in its strong cast, Gaynor Faye as hard-edged Rose and Emma Osman as headstrong Carol particularly standing out for their strong, believable performances. Laurie Brett and Sacha Parkinson are equally excellent as Anita and young mum Gina respectively.
Shame then that the rapid pace leaves little room for character development. The men – Kieron Richardson (Steve), Shayne Ward (Inspector Newall) and Andrew Dunn (Ian Barraclough) – all deliver strong performances but are somewhat underused, appearing on stage for a mere matter of minutes with Ward’s Newall only cropping up in the second act.
Some major plot points also happen so quickly that it’s hard to connect fully with them. The finale is a prime example of this, the last-scene confession from the unmasked villain tying loose ends up so quickly that the audience barely has time for the reveal to sink in.
That said, if you’re a fan of Mellor’s previous work, there’s plenty to enjoy here, BAND OF GOLD’s strong female characters, sharp wit and colourful dialogue giving an authentic, living voice to the women of the lane.
This is also an empowering piece which shines an important light on the realities of poverty, domestic abuse and the sex industry.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.