Stage review: Band of Gold - Leeds Grand Theatre

Writer Kay Mellor, front, centre, with the cast of Band of Gold.
Writer Kay Mellor, front, centre, with the cast of Band of Gold.
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I’ll say it: Kay Mellor is not well enough appreciated.

Maybe because she’s a woman. Maybe because she’s a Northerner who demands her work remains rooted and made in the North.

Whatever the reason, a metropolitan-focussed cultural world doesn’t appear to quite ‘get’ the importance of this writer, director, producer, one-person industry.

No matter. We know. And as long as Mellor stays interested enough to keep coming up with new ideas we can be grateful for her.

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Mellor’s latest project is a stage adaptation of her 1995 hit TV show Band of Gold. A defining piece of work for Yorkshire and for Mellor, it was a bit of a risk to translate this to the stage. There is the constant question of ‘Why now?’

While exploitation of people continues, the story will always be sadly relevant and Mellor has created a genuinely gripping and hugely entertaining piece of work.

The play occasionally feels like it’s made-for-TV squashed into a proscenium arch, with scene changes in need of smoothing.

But as always with Mellor, the story is key.

Hung around the tale of a desperate woman who finds herself with fewer options, something which remains starkly relevant, the story is populated with vibrant and bold characters. The women take centre stage here and, boy, can Mellor write for women.

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A swaggering Gaynor Faye is brilliantly bold as Rose and young Emma Osman grabs the role of Carol, made famous by Cathy Tyson in the TV series, and runs with it. Sacha Parkinson embodies desperation as Gina, whose fate motivates the story on stage.

Clearly it could never plumb the same depths as 18 hour-long TV episodes but this version of Band of Gold brings a dirty flavour of life on The Lane to the stage with vibrancy, some classic Mellor one-liners and a gritty, gripping story.

4 STARS

To December 14.