DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Syndicate – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Jacob Bush

Writer: Kay Mellor

Director: Gaynor Faye

Following the sad passing of the legendary Kay Mellor, her final play is now on a major UK tour. Based on the TV series of the same name,The Syndicateexplores the struggles of a group of friends and colleagues who work in a supermarket and what happens when they collectively win a significant amount of money in the lottery. Whilst your reviewer hasn’t seen the TV series, he could still very much enjoy the play. It’s not a revolutionary drama but it is gripping and moving, with a handful of chuckles throughout.

Kay Mellor creates characters you really feel like you could bump into in the street. There’s such a variety of personalities represented that audiences are bound to find themselves in the show somewhere. Gaynor Faye, daughter of Kay Mellor, takes on her first solo directing role. She helps the cast find the moments of humour, moments of tension and moments of emotion effectively and keeps the piece moving at a good pace. Bretta Gerecke’s simple set effectively depicts multiple rooms in the supermarket, before transforming into a fancy mansion for Act Two. Gerecke’s costumes are colourful, with Brooke Vincent’s Amy having wonderfully outlandish outfits in the second half.

As well as directing the show, Faye appears as Kay (a woman who works for the lottery company, not Mellor!). This is a relatively minor role for her but she brings lots of energy to the stage with the stage time she does get.Coronation Street‘s Brooke Vincent comes into her own as Amy in the second half with impeccable comic timing but also bringing to life the more sinister aspects of the character really well.Emmerdalestar Samantha Giles completes the trio of headliners. She is a joy to watch, personifying the mad aunt or grandma everyone has in their family somewhere.

Leading man Benedict Shaw gives a strong performance as Stuart, bringing to life the character’s paranoia wonderfully. Oliver Anthony gives a terrific turn as Jamie, Stuart’s younger brother. He’s perfectly cocky and smarmy, and portrays the negative sides that money can bring out in people well. William Ilkley’s Bob is believable and full of warmth, whilst Rosa Coduri-Fulford gives a moving performance as Leanne, who may not be all that she seems from the outset.

The Syndicateis an enjoyable evening out, with some strong performances, touching on some important themes. It’s not going to set the world alight, and nor does it particularly need to.

Runs until 15th June 2024.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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