Band of Gold by Kay Mellor.

Band of Gold cast photo by Ant Robling

Themes of desperation, fear and anger are told through this gripping story by Kay Mellor who also directs this staged version of Band of Gold. It’s an extremely moving yet uncomfortable play to whatch, leaving me to take a sharp intake of breath on several occasions. Once a hit television show its had new life breathed into it for this come back staged adaptation.

Prostitution is the oldest profession used by women when they often feel they have nothing else left to offer in order to be able to make some money to make ends meet. As Rose ( Gayner Faye), Anita (Laurie Brett) and Carol (Emma Osman) comment during the play “how many men have you disliked and slept with for free” at least they get paid.

Each of the male characters who feature in this production are enough to put a vast majority of women off ever wanting to have engaged in any form of relationship with a man again. Each of them has a sinister manipulative undercurrent to their character that left me feeling cold. From the serial cheating husband to the violent and abusive ex to the lying loan shark.

The ladies who work the street have a new fear in town in the form of the notorious Yorkshire Ripper who strikes without warning. The girls try to have each other’s back and watch out for one another all the time yet as Gina (Sacha Parkinson) takes a risk and gets into a car with an unseen punter, it turns out to be her final journey.

Every man who has had even the slightest involvement with Gina are put under the microscope by the other ladies. They try to work out who could have been her murderer before he strikes again. Is it George (Mark Sheals) the lecherous two-timing married lover of Anita or is it Ian Barraclough (Andrew Dunn) the local councillor who appears to be offering the girls a way out of prostitution by setting up their own cleaning company or Gina’s violent ex-husband Steve(Keiron Richardson)?

The subject matter in Band of Gold left me questioning what I might do in a situation similar to any one of ladies. Although from the outside it’s very easy to take the moral high ground nobody knows how they would respond if they were faced with no other option but to sell the one thing that they have control over.

Emma Osman as Carol

Carol in the photograph above is carrying two industrial canisters of bleach. Her obsession with keeping her house clean after each client bought out feelings of empathy from me. She desperately wanted to keep her environment clean at all times. Bleaching and scrubbing away the stains of her profession.

The interchangeable stage worked really well from the street scene to the bar and two of the ladies flats. Furnishings moved in and out giving each place their own identity, which allows you to follow the plot easily.

In the street nightlife scenes, the headlights and car sound effects were extremely effective. I certainly felt at times that I was in amongst the actions. Lighting designer Jason Taylor and Mic Pool sound designer have certainly bought the red light district streets of the 1990’s Bradford to life.

Although this is not an easy play to watch as it delivers some very hard-hitting punches. Both metaphorically and physically for the actors. Highlighting another part of society which we choose in the main part to ignore it is important to understand there is always a reason why someone ends up in this situation. Everybody deserves the chance and opportunity to live a peaceful contented life should they choose to.

https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/band-of-gold-2020/