ONE of this touring play's strengths (and there are many) is a strong cast of established stars of stage and small screen.

Add that to the legacy of a TV hit that had achieved more than 15 million viewers each week.

Kay Mellor wrote this look at prostitution using humour amid the heartbreak and ugly urban decay of the early '90s.

Now this world premier sees some of the series' greatest hits and themes adapted for the stage.

A packed audience on the firsf night of a week-long Wirral run proved that there is a demand for this type of re-boot.

The original focused around a diverse group of women -  April, Rose, Anita and Gina.

They are back on the streets and speak their minds again, so much so there is a pre-show voice-over by director Kay Mellor herself warning of strong language.

The story revolves around a young mother who is drawn to a notorious red light district with a killer on the loose.

A whodunit emerges.

Kay has asked that there be no spoilers so suffice to say you will have to work it out for yourself who has blood on their hands.

The incidental music from Soft Cell and some karaoke performances in a neon-lit club provides the atmospheric backdrop on a set that is consistently wheeled about with admirable slickness.

There is a definite tele-visual feel to the proceedings which is a welcome departure from static stage murder mysteries.

There are many strong performances in the two-hour-20-minute production from the 12-strong cast, notably Sacha Parkinson who captures the harsh reality befalling Gina.

She reflects despair and vulnerability.

Gaynor Faye, as the frequently flying-off-the handle Rose, connects with the audience from the outset as does Shayne Ward playing Inspector Newall.

The male characters - Newall apart - deserve little sympathy while the feisty yet fragile females seek our support.

Such are their dilemmas we find ourselves egging them on to pull through their nights of darkness.

Band of Gold certainly has plenty of light and shade ... and vice-versa.

Punchy and poignant. 

Four stars

The production is at the Floral Pavilion until Saturday

Tickets from the box office on 0151 666 0000.