The remarkable 50s play was written by Shelagh Delaney in 10 days when she was just 19 years old. The young writer had just seen Terence Rattigan's Variation on a Theme in Manchester and felt she could do better. Delaney did just that: borrowing a typewriter the next day, she sent the script to Joan Littlewood, avant-garde director of London's Theatre Workshop. The play soon opened at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, before transferring to the West End. It was made into a Bafta-winning film in 1961.
A Taste of Honey celebrates the strengths and vulnerabilities of womanhood, set against the backdrop of working-class life in 50s Salford. Jodie Prenger (Oliver!, Annie, Abigail's Party) stars as Helen, who runs off with a car salesman. Helen leaves behind her feisty teenage daughter Jo, played by Gemma Dobson. Jo meets Jimmie (Durone Stokes), a sailor who promises to marry her before heading off to sea. But when absent mother Helen returns, the family unravels.
Jodie Prenger as Helen, by Marc Brenner
Although often revived elsewhere, Delaney's play has rarely been seen in London since its 50s debut – where it originally divided critics. The Daily Mail thought the 1958 West End production 'tasted of exercise books and marmalade' rather than honey, referring to Delaney's young age. But critic and director Lindsay Anderson described the original 1958 West End production as 'a work of complete, exhilarating originality'.
Lisa Burger, executive of the National Theatre, says she's looking forward to introducing 'new audiences in London to this classic' as award-winning theatre and opera director Bijan Sheibani (Barber Shop Chronicles, Dance Nation) collaborates with designer Hildegard Bechtler. Sheibani and Bechtler reimagine an exciting new stage, following their partnership for the National Theatre's 2014 Lyttelton Theatre production of the play. The new performance features original blues and soul compositions by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, but also rearranged songs from the jazz era performed by an onstage three-piece band.
|What||A Taste of Honey, Trafalgar Studios|
|Where||Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
05 Dec 19 – 29 Feb 20, 7:30 PM – 9:55 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|