Image Credit: Hull Truck Theatre
The play was written in 1958 and originally directed by Joan Littlewood and premiered at Royal Stratford East. Many productions followed indicating the need to raise the story's themes universally. The audience is invited to join Jo (Rebecca Ryan) embarking on a journey from childhood into adulthood. She was determined to become independent from her alcohol and man dependent mother, Helen (Julie Riley). Jo sought happiness with Jimmy, a black sailor on shore leave (Lekan Lawal) but only to have fallen pregnant and moved in with her friend, an art student, Geoff (Christopher Hancock) who assumed responsibility of being a father to her unborn child.
The story reflected the bitter sweet taste of how things turned out and vice versa in her life. Jo's spirit of resilience and determination to be a young independent woman in the face of challenges and perceptions was shown throughout. The author certainly wanted to write a free form play where a voice along with originality and humility are featured and that ordinary people can relate to the characters and themes raised in their everyday lives. Delaney definitely saw a need to write this play after seeing a production, Variations on a Theme. It was written at time where a 'new voice' for British Theatre began, aligned with the beginning of big social changes at the beginning and end of the 1960s. The issues explored then are just as parallel in 2014 where they are just as prevalent and seen in the communities and in the media. No one is a stranger to social deprivation; families struggling to make ends meet; alcoholism; sexuality; race; gender, equality and roles in women and social classes.
The excellent cast under the direction of Mark Babych and Paul Smith creatively told Jo's story with input from the other characters including Helen's Lover, Peter (James Weaver). The staging and lighting (designed by Hayley Grindle and Ciaran Bagnall) reflected the industrial working class neighbourhood Jo lived in. The music and sounds, co-ordinated by James Fowler, played between the scenes reflected the music of the story's era and the pre-show music which welcomed the audience who was seeing the show.
Seeing A Taste of Honey reiterates how important the themes are today in society as well as in the late 1950s. It's certainly a production which one from one's walk of life can appreciate. This amazing production refreshingly offers something for someone. Catch this production on tour...from Doncaster it has gone to Scarborough and then will go to Bury St Edmunds, Salford, Malvern, Cheltenham and will finish in York.