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Reviewing the witty lottery drama at Hull New Theatre

I’ve always said that when I win the Lottery (I know, I am an optimist) that I would have to
tick ‘No Publicity’ and this decision was confirmed to me by the latest offering at Hull New
Theatre last night. “The Syndicate” by the late Kay Mellor is showing this week and I was so
lucky to be invited along to see the show on opening night.

It’s the story of 5 supermarket workers each facing their own problems from the supermarket
being taken over and closed with the associated loss of jobs, to a new baby and nowhere to
live. Our five, play the Lottery religiously each week and just as their luck is down with the
shop closing, they win £24,500,000. Oh, how their lives will change.

Opening in a supermarket setting our play introduces the characters. Dippy Denise
(Samantha Giles of Emmerdale) who brilliantly plays the super boring character who loves
dogs and would open a rescue if she ever won the lottery. Assistant Manager Stuart
(Benedict Shaw) whose girlfriend is pregnant and he is in a permanent turmoil over how to
provide for his family and not be led astray by his brother Jamie (Oliver Anthony who I
understand is Kay Mellor’s grandson).

Anthony brilliantly plays Jamie as an over-confident Jack the Lad, bouncing all over the stage and bragging about his ‘Lambo’ after the win. There’s also Leanne, (Rosa Coduri-Fulford) a single mum with a crush on Stuart. Leanne gives us an inkling early on that she has a secret and we are all intrigued to know what it is. Finally, Bob, the supermarket manager (William Ilkley) who sympathetically plays the father
figure in the cast.

Jamie and Stuart desperate for money, plan to rob the supermarket, well Jamie plans and
Stuart is coerced into going along with it and suffering the guilt all night. The raid goes
wrong and poor Bob is knocked unconscious when he returns to the supermarket after hours
to pick up his phone.

Stuart’s girl goes into labour and we are introduced to Amy (Brooke Vincent) who is a
vacuous, wannabe and plays Stuarts greedy girlfriend brilliantly. She comes into her own in
the second act as the hostess at their new rented ‘mansion’ and is the archetypal gold-
digger in her ‘juicy couture’ trackie.

Bob recovers (with a new found brain tumour thanks to the bash on the head) and Act 2
takes us into Stuart and Amy’s rented mansion. The cast had opted for publicity (reluctantly)
for their win and the Lottery publicity coordinator comes to arrange this. They talk of how
this win will change their lives.

In the meantime, the police have been investigating the robbery and know who they suspect.
Our evening ends with our cast all going different ways, some halfway round the world in
search of a cure, some to prison and some to a sticky end.

The theme throughout the night was how money can change people. They can become
careless, feel powerful, spend on ‘stuff’ and not invest. They can attract ‘partners’ back,
whether wanted or not. Life certainly changes and you need to be level-headed to cope with
the challenges a big win can bring. Mellor certainly explored these in a humorous way, with
a theme of ‘I wonder what attracted them to you’ for Denise’s character. It is a great play
with a stellar cast and is well worth going to see.

The Syndicate is running from Wed 10 July to Sat 13 July, and more info and tickets can be found here.

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