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By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Please note: This is an adult production which contains domestic violence, strong language and implied sexual scenes.
Band of Gold at
Written and directed by Kay Mellor
1990s Bradford is the setting for this stage version of the ITV Drama Band of Gold which is at The Alexandra until Saturday 15th February.
Gina is moving on with her life after splitting up with her abusive husband Steve, she has become an Avon lady, but it isn’t helping pay off Mr Moore, a loan shark.
She meets Carol and Rose and discovers they are getting much better money from selling sex and contemplates a side hustle. As she is further drawn into their world she encounters Anita who allows the women to use her flat for their red-light activities.
The two distinct acts each last one hour, plus a twenty-minute interval. The story features a decent calibre of television actors including Sacha Parkinson as Gina, Emma Osman as Carol, Gaynor Faye as Rose, Kieron Richardson as Steve, Andrew Dunn as Ian Barraclough and Shayne Ward as Newall. At this performance, we saw Virginia Byron in the role of Anita usually played by Laurie Brett.
I was expecting this to be pretty serious so was surprised to discover this was a warmer production with lighter touches of good old-fashioned northern humour. The confident script swiftly delivers us many characters whilst pushing forward the story at each stage, but make no mistake, this is a still a serious drama where the men are all willing to pay for sex and the women are willing to take the money.
The stage is filled by huge sliding walls, several random sofas and bar furniture which slightly distracted me from the main action as each scene change took place. In the script the sofas are clearly meant to be different but this could have easily been corrected.
The music is peppered with electric guitars and some slinky saxophones, reminding me of the music of Gary Moore or 90s TV drama like Boon or Bergerac. (I don’t look old enough? How kind!)
Sacha Parkinson and Emma Osman shine in their roles and Kieron Richardson is suitably mean as the scorned husband. I couldn’t help but wish for more for Shayne Ward to do, the audience cheered when he appeared on stage. Ultimately I wonder how Laurie Brett’s Antia would play out while Virginia Byron relished in stepping into her shoes for the night. Gaynor Faye is excellent as ever!
A prostitution mystery thriller is a tricky sell as a stage show, but this great cast and story makes it a rewarding production.
Band of Gold is at The Alexandra until 15th February. Book tickets with BrumHour’s affiliate link >> HERE <<.
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When not writing about theatre for BrumHour, or producing Interval Theatre for Brum Radio (Tuesdays 3pm) brumradio.com/intervaltheatre,
Dave Massey can be found eating crisps and tweeting about Birmingham for #BrumHour.