Mayflower Southampton – until 8 February 2020
Reviewed by Jo Gordon
Kay Mellors award winning TV series Band of Gold has made a return but this time on the stage. Set in Bradford around the early 90’s we follow the lives of a group of women trying their best to survive despite addictions, single parenting and austerity. To help pay their rents and feed the kids they feel the only option is to work The Lanes as prostitutes which in turn brings in fines from the police, which leads to working more clients to pay the fines that turns into loans from unscrupulous loan sharks and the vicious circle continues!
The streets are unsafe but brothels are illegal so Anita (Laurie Brett) allows the girls to use her flat for a small fee on the days her lover George (Mark Sheals) stays at home with his wife, or so she thinks he is!
Young Mum Gina (Sacha Parkinson) is new to it all after struggling to make ends meet selling Avon and in debt with the local “Finance Expert” (Joe Mallalieu) whilst dealing with a violent estranged husband (Kieron Richardson). She gets taken under the wing of long time lane worker Carol (Emma Osman) who tries her best to put her off and teach her the ways of the job while dealing with her own issues of single parenting, debts and the compulsive cleaning and bleaching of her house.
All three women answer to the street savvy Rose (Gaynor Faye), self proclaimed Queen of the lanes who turned to prostitution many years before to fund her drug addictions which bring with it lots of heartache.
Their lives are beautifully intertwined as each characters personal story starts to unravel before us, the audience soon gets drawn in to the highs and lows as it has quite an intimate feel to it and despite being quite dark at times there is still plenty of humour. There are lots of twists and turns to the plot but each one has its place to bring their stories together.
As the curtain goes up, Kay Mellor’s comforting Northern tones request we tell all about the play but don’t share the surprises, so I will honour that and you will have to find out for yourselves! One little thing I will say is if you’re a fan of the washing up glove you’re in for a treat…….!!!
The set works well with clever transitions turning the stage from internal scenes in houses and pubs to the dark, seedy and sometimes dangerous lanes. You will hear some well known tunes at times too that will instantly put you in the right era.
An incredibly strong and talented cast that tell a story about equally strong women and despite the years passing by, is sadly still as relevant today in modern times of austerity as when Kay first began researching for Band of Gold in the 80’s.