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Kay Mellor's The Syndicate

Kay Mellor's The Syndicate

Based on her hit BBC TV show that entertained millions of viewers over four series, The Syndicate is a new stage play by the legendary Kay Mellor, that follows five supermarket employees whose lottery syndicate numbers come in, just as their jobs and livelihoods are under threat.

Will a share of the £18million jackpot make their dreams come true or their nightmares a reality? One thing’s for certain, the win of a lifetime will change the lives, loves and relationships of all the syndicate members… for ever.

Written by Kay Mellor and directed by Gaynor Faye, this moving comedy drama is based on the first series of The Syndicate and marks the world premiere of Kay Mellor’s final stage play, following on from the huge success of her other stage adaptations; ‘Band of Gold’ and Fat Friends. The mother/daughter duo have collaborated on multiple writing and directing projects, with The Syndicate marking the directorial debut for Gaynor and honouring the extraordinary talents of her mother, one of Britain’s most successful writers and her unparalleled ability to make us laugh and cry and above all entertain, with her wonderful characters and stories.

Don’t miss your chance to see this jackpot of a production. Book your winning tickets – now!

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Kay Mellor's The Syndicate ON TOUR

Our review on Kay Mellor's The Syndicate

The Syndicate - The Lowry, Salford - Saturday 18th May 2024 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating


What would you do if you won a life changing amount of money?  How would it impact your life?  It’s a mind game many of us play with ourselves time and time again, dreaming how our lives could be different, easier, happier, if only we had that windfall.  But would this really be the case?  Can money really have the power to change the things that matter most?  The Syndicate by BAFTA award winning writer Kay Mellor introduces us to a group of everyday people, grafting hard to make ends meet, and working their way through the challenges life throws at them.  As this group work their way through to the end of their shift via a series of daft jokes, humorous observations and sharing the tit bits of their lives, we see their easy friendships.  But when their syndicate comes through and they discover a ridiculous amount of money will be coming their way, we await with baited breath as to whether this will strengthen or sever what are perhaps threadbare bonds rather than true loyalties.  After all, each has their own story to deal with.  Dog lover Denise has stuff going on at home with her husband, brothers Jamie and Stuart have a whole host of family drama to deal with plus a few sly hustles on the side to manage, single parent Leanne is harbouring a secret, and the Manager Bob, who works so hard at making sure everyone is happy, perhaps neglects his own struggles with his sons and has a few health issues to sort out.


Kay Mellor is known for her writing making you cry with laughter one moment and cry with heartache the next.  This stage adaptation of the television series (based on series one) not only captures this beautifully but allows the realness of humans to shine through with the brilliantly bonkers back and forth conversations that often go off at seemingly random tangents, before always finding their way back to the plot, all the while being beautifully sprinkled with impromptu thoughts or opinions.  It is refreshing real and solidifies these characters as people you know, recognise, or even chat aimlessly with in your own local shop!


Samantha Giles is Denise and the mother hen of the group, bringing us a tangible warmth and character you instantly warm to.  She is quirky and brilliant with character work, and a spontaneous laugh one minute to sadness the next.  It was so different to any role I’ve seen her in before and was a joy to watch how talented she is at just about everything.  Oliver Anthony and Benedict Shaw as brothers Jamie and Stuart are full of electric tension with their bickering, and really capture the loving closeness, yet often sparring nature of siblings.  Anthony plays his character with man child perfection, wanting to be one of the big boys, yet stropping like a teenager, complete with eye rolls when things don’t go his way.  His characters arrogance is palpable.  Between them, they create an impressive duo and bring us some excellent comedy moments.  Shaw plays the tormented brother, trying to juggle all life throws at him with building tension, and is so believable and natural in the role.  He blends his anguish with ample laughs and never misses a beat. 


William Ilkley is the heartwarming Bob who will steal your heart and really is a good egg.  He is so Northern and stoic in his approach to everything and his ability to convey this is exceptional.  Rosa Coduri – Fulford portrays Leanne who balances the role of playing someone with a secret really well, drip feeding us delicious clues throughout without it ever feeling obvious.  She has some tender moments with Shaw and between them, they create a star crossed lovers feel.  Detective Newall is performed by Jerome Ngonadi and has that whole good cop bad cop thing going on all on his own.  He presents a wary charm that hides his truth and with a dazzling smile, he allows us to not hate the character trying to rip apart the lives of one or two of the syndicate.  Brooke Vincent as the demanding Amy is absolutely hilarious, from her high pitched voice, to her hair flicks, mean girl vibes and her often quick changes in personality from anger and disgust at Stuart, to happiness in the shape of pound signs.  She really masters the timing of her delivery and nails the intonation, meaning lines such as offering everyone a can-ape as opposed to a canape or telling Alexa to boil the kettle and make a cup of tea, land beautifully.


Gaynor Faye is Kay, the publicity seeking lottery rep.  In a beautiful legacy moment, Faye also directs her late mothers last play and I cannot think of anyone more perfect for the role.  As Kay, her comedic skills are legendary, a quick look here, a perfectly timed comment there show us all how larger than life doesn’t always win the comedy lottery.  As director, Faye has allowed her cast the freedom to breathe and develop their characters from pre to post lottery win, hence bringing out the best of her mums work.  I can only imagine how emotional this whole process has been, and it is a stunning gift to share this play with us all.


These characters are amplified by the brilliant costume design of Bretta Gerecke, who notably alters their appearance after the big win.  It really does highlight how each of them deals with money and is subtly clever and enhances the narrative.  Gerecke’s set lays out the beating heart of the story for us, the main shop floor with a staff room and the managers office sandwiching it at either side of the stage.  These rooms are able to double up as other spaces as and when needed, such as the hospital, with a clever flip down of a coat rail into a bed, making the overall impact clean and effective.  The second act sees an entirely fresh set to match the change in circumstances and the development of the characters stories, whisking us away into the newly transformed lives of our now wealthy syndicate members.


The story has elements of crime, comedy, real life, domestic, and a desire for something more out of life.  They are all elements that somehow fit together just as these group of characters do, perhaps in another world they wouldn’t coexist, but here, it becomes the perfect syndicate.  From idle gossip between Denise and Leanne, to tender moments between Bob and Stuart where you start to feel that Stuart is the son he always wanted.  The robbery scene is brilliant tense and funny at the same time, and even the opening will take you unawares as Faye talks directly to the audience apologising, for what we believe will be a delay to the show.  But this is theatre, and anything can happen.  As The Syndicate comes to an end, we are reminded of the nougats of wisdom that money does not always equal happiness, and because the characters have been so palatable throughout, it does not feel like a preachy, or faded message.  The second act takes place in Stuart and Amy’s new mansion, bringing a new lavish set and a new pace, where the one liners seem to get quicker and slicker, as a couple of new plot twists develop.  This is a different and new story from what you may have seen in the TV series.  It does bring us the same characters and is loosely based on series one, but do not come expecting a replica.  I personally appreciated this because I felt I was getting even more of The Syndicate and felt honoured to be watching Kay Mellor’s final play.  I was surprised by how emotional this made me feel, and I will remember this one for some time.    



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