Theatre Review: KAY MELLOR’S THE SYNDICATE – The Lowry, Salford

The cast of KAY MELLOR’S THE SYNDICATE. Photo Credit: Craig Sugden

Kay Mellor’s final stage play, THE SYNDICATE, is a well-executed adaptation with strong performances and plenty of Northern humour.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Following the success of her other stage adaptations, BAND OF GOLD and FAT FRIENDS, Kay Mellor’s final stage play, THE SYNDICATE, makes its world premiere at Salford’s The Lowry this week as part of a new UK tour.

Based on the hit BBC TV show, THE SYNDICATE follows the fortunes of five supermarket employees whose lottery syndicate numbers take the jackpot just as their jobs and livelihoods are under threat. Will a share of £24 million make their dreams come true or turn their lives into nightmares?

Much like the TV show, this stage version covers a lot of ground, with director Faye ensuring the action moves at a steady pace. Mellor’s trademark characterisation and quick-witted dialogue, full of northern humour and warm familiarity, shine through.

 Samantha Giles in KAY MELLOR’S THE SYNDICATE. Photo Credit: Craig Sugden

The cast features familiar faces, including EMMERDALE’s Samantha Giles as long-term employee Denise and CORONATION STREET’s Brooke Vincent as Amy, Stuart’s feisty girlfriend, both of whom deliver excellent comedic performances. Faye also appears as lottery representative Kay.

Benedict Shaw gives a convincing performance as Stuart, the young man with a conscience trying to do the right thing, as does Connor-James Ryan as Jamie, Stuart’s younger “jack-the-lad” brother, who swaggers around the stage with knowing confidence.

The play tackles numerous themes in one evening, from health concerns to financial and relationship issues. This ambitious scope sometimes results in characters feeling more like caricatures rather than fully developed individuals.

The cast of KAY MELLOR’S THE SYNDICATE. Photo Credit: Craig Sugden

The show could also benefit from breathing life into some of the longer scenes and ease the strain of frequent scene transitions, despite the snippets of money-themed pop songs like Pink Floyd’s MONEY and Simply Red’s MONEY TOO TIGHT TO MENTION helping to keep things light.

That said, Bretta Gerecke’s set design is functional and colourful, with bright and bold costuming in the second act providing a visual shorthand for the characters’ transformations.

While THE SYNDICATE may not be as funny or as gripping as some of Mellor’s other dramas, it is well done, ultimately questioning the cost of craving money and fame.

KAY MELLOR’S THE SYNDICATE runs at The Lowry, Salford, until 19 May 2024