REVIEW: Sex workers' heartache is exposed in Band of Gold at Nottingham Theatre Royal

Band of Gold at Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Band of Gold at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

From the moment a minimalistic set slides into place and reveals Bradford’s red light district, with Gaynor Faye’s hardened sex worker Rose proclaiming ‘no one works the Lane without my permission’ – we enter a world of sleaze and crime.

Kay Mellor’s Band of Gold, at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal this week, offers a stage version of her 1990s television series. Mellor leaves the story in 1990 and it evolves around Sacha Parkinson’s character, 20-year-old mum Gina who is struggling to make ends meet after separating from her bitter, violent husband Steve (Kieron Richardson), who wants her back. Indeed, Gina’s mum Joyce (Olwen May) suggests it might be better to return to the marital bed for financial security.

Instead, Gina tries to build up Avon sales to supplement the meagre child benefit and income support and when she finds this is not enough, turns to a loan shark. Interest compounds beyond her means and it brings her into the world of Rose and her fellow sex-worker Carol (Emma Osman). They operate out of a flat in which a local businessman has installed his mistress Anita (Laurie Brett) and here we see the human side of the oldest profession.

Anita lives in the vain hope of a permanent relationship, Rose, heading towards her sell-by date, yearns for the child she lost to social services and Carol is determined to provide her own daughter with the best she can.

It all makes for a compelling evening, with other noteworthy parts produced by Andrew Dunn and Shayne Ward. The set moves smoothly from street to flat and to a pub where business is carried out and the evening provides a masterclass from the whole cast in the awful, and occasionally hilarious situations in which they find themselves and the sharp humour which helps them cope.

• Band of Gold is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, January 18. Performances start at 7.30pm each evening with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm Tickets are priced from  £15.50. Call 0115 989 5555 or go to www.trch.co.uk