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Theatre Review – The Syndicate

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Sometimes you just do things on the spur of the moment. One of the great joys of both myself and my wife being retired is that we can do things at the drop of a hat. Want to stay in your pyjamas all day? Go for it! Can’t be bothered cooking? Let’s pop out for lunch. Do you want to go and see this play that’s on? Why not…and book the pre-theatre dining too! That was, pretty much, how we came to be watching Kay Mellor’s The Syndicate this evening. I do like a bit of spontaneity now and then.

It had been being advertised for quite a while. Unfortunately for the people who had been spending a fortune on publicity absolutely none of it meant anything to me. The fact that the main players had had prominent roles in some of our leading soap operas meant nothing to me as, sadly for them, I don’t watch any live TV and definitely not soaps. So the fact that one character was played by a star of Emmerdale while another had been in a prominent role in Coronation Street meant nothing to me; I’ve never watched Emmerdale and hadn’t seen Coronation Street since 1964.

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Money Is Power

So I went into The Syndicate with an open mind which was not awe struck or spellbound by celebrity. A couple of weeks ago we’d been to see an amateur production of The Regina Monologues which was excellent and I went into The Syndicate with the same level of expectation…I expected them to be reasonable to good actors who knew all their lines and I expected them to be backed up by a professional level of scenery, costumes, music, and lights. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

The Syndicate is a play about a group of five colleagues in a small supermarket. They all have the usual problems; family difficulties, shortage of cash, and personal conflicts at home. To make matters worse, the supermarket they work at has been bought out and is scheduled for demolition. There may be jobs when the new place is built but there are no guarantees. Just like most groups of workers around the world, Denise (Samantha Giles) has organised a lottery syndicate. The members are Denise, Leanne (Rosa Coduri-Fulford), the manager Bob (William Ilkley), Jamie (Oliver Anthony), and Stuart (Benedict Shaw).

You’re Five Weeks Behind

All of the workers have problems. Jamie is in a fragile relationship with Amy (Brooke Vincent) made worse by them losing their home. His brother, Stuart owes money to a local heavy. Denise has a bed ridden mother and a husband with a wandering eye. Leanne has problems surrounding her ex and her daughter. Bob is not in the best of health. They all pin their hopes on a lottery win; even I buy one ticket a week just to keep the dream alive. Stuart persuades Jamie that they can get out of their predicaments by staging a robbery. Jamie is the assistant manager and does the cashing up and Stuart has a realistic looking toy gun…realistic enough for the dodgy CCTV anyway!

They act out the robbery and all is going well until Bob shows up unexpectedly and puts a rather messy fly in the ointment. The following day Bob is in hospital and DCI Newall (Jerome Ngonadi) is asking questions. Just then, in walks Denise who announces that their syndicate has won £24 million which will give them each £4.8 million. Enter Kay (Gaynor Faye, who also directs and is the daughter of Kay Mellor) the horrendous lottery company rep who is trying to get them to do as much publicity work as she can. So, there are the police asking one lot of questions while the lottery company are asking another! Perhaps The Syndicate aren’t going to get their happy ending after all.

Grade: A

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