> The Syndicate – 2nd July 2024, Theatre Royal, Glasgow – Theatre Review - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

The Syndicate – 2nd July 2024, Theatre Royal, Glasgow – Theatre Review

The late Kay Mellor had a great ear for working class dialogue, as well as the nuances of everyday struggles. So the theatrical adaptation of her hit TV show could have been a triumph. It doesn’t hit these heights, falling in a rather unwieldy tangle between satire, soap and crime caper. But it’s still likeable enough, thanks to some sharp writing and fine performances.

When supermarket workers form a pact (or ‘syndicate’ of the title) to split any lottery winnings, they never believe they’ll hit the jackpot. But, after a pitiful attempt by a cashier’s thuggish brother, Jamie (Oliver Anthony) to rob the store, it goes disastrously wrong, only for their numbers to come up. Then it’s all ‘mo’ money, mo’ problems’, to quote The Notorious B.I.G. 

Pick ‘n’ mix of dysfunction

The group is a pick ‘n’ mix of dysfunction. Stuart (a well rounded performance from Benedict Shaw), is Jamie’s brother, and in a moribund relationship. Bob, the manager, is a decent man, but is attacked in the would-be gangsta style robbery: William Ilkley invests the character with great pathos and gentle, unassuming humour.  Leanne, played with real subtlety by Rosa Coduri-Fulford, is kind and intelligent, although battling her own familial demons. Denise, though, unfortunately has Samantha Giles (usually a great actor) braying her way through most of the show, coming across more like a rejected Victoria Wood character than one grounded in any kind of reality. The aforementioned Jamie is a cruel narcissist.

Leave it to Gaynor Faye the oily, ingratiating PR lady for the Lottery, Kay, to bring the energy levels up. As both director and actor here, she brings her typical grit, sass, and glamour.  Overall, it’s not the most consistent show, then, but it still has enough barbed lines and twists to engage.

The Syndicate is at Theatre Royal, Glasgow until Saturday, July 6th, and touring

Photo credits: provided by King’s Theatre & Theatre Royal

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