Band of Gold – at Leeds Grand Theatre Until 14 December

Another world premiere is brought to Leeds Grand Theatre, this time a stage production of Kay Mellor’s TV drama, Band of Gold.

Band of Gold raised many an eyebrow when it hit our screens in 1995, and over 24 years later, the impact of this award-winner is just as strong, as intense and packed with dramatic grit as it ever was.

The story centres on four women who have, each for their own reasons, taken to prostitution and the streets of Bradford.  Quite quickly, this earthy drama develops a more sinister twist, with the murder of one of the women and the effect this has on her colleagues and her family.  The already complex story becomes one of survival as the threat to life is felt.

As a Bradford lass, I well remember how girls felt when the Yorkshire Ripper was at large, how scared they were about what could happen.  Band of Gold brought those days back to the forefront of my mind as I watched tonight’s realistic representation of a similar scenario unfold.

It was a different kind of ‘Memory Lane’, though, when Laurie Brett as Anita gave voice to the songs from the era, offering another layer to a character at once needy and dependent.  Gaynor Faye as Rose, a heroin addict, was later to pull some heartstrings, but I’ll save that for you to discover for yourselves.

In familiar style and true to life, Kay Mellor weaves humour through the tale, offering a drama punctuated with light relief, then closes with a final scene to satisfy those in need of an assertion that there can be happy endings.

Emma Osman plays Carol, whose love interest is a police inspector (Shayne Ward), although I’m still thinking about a punter wearing pink rubber gloves whilst Carol sashayed, resplendent in stockings and black stilettos.   So this is what the familiar faces get up to when they’re not on our TV screens!  They had me glued from start to finish.

Emma Osman, Laurie Brett and Gaynor Faye

It would be unfair on those of you who didn’t see the TV series to reveal the reveal!  Suffice to mention that the identity of the murderer comes as a shock to all but the most sleuthful of theatre-goers.

It was a delight and a reassurance that the cast conveyed character and plot with an impressive style and panache equal to those of the original actors in Band of Gold on our TV screens.

As I made my way home, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Kay Mellor’s storyline was so compelling because it hasn’t aged; because in so many cities and towns, there are Carols and Roses and Anitas, their pimps, their families, their debts and addictions, loves, betrayals and abuses.  In a world with breathtaking discoveries and advances in so many aspects of life, some situations hardly alter at all.

Perhaps Kay would agree with me that the reason she was asked so often to bring Band of Gold back could be because it’s a tale which marks an aspect of our society virtually unchanged over the years.  I have a feeling Ms Mellor might have known this when she first put fingers to keyboard.

Feature photograph is Kieron Richardson and Gaynor Faye. Photographs provided by Leeds Grand Theatre.
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