BWW Review: A TASTE OF HONEY, King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Helen (Jodie Prenger) and her daughter Josephine (Gemma Dobson) move into a run down one-bedroom flat in Salford. Helen remains upbeat about the whole thing while Jo is every inch the petulant teenager, sulking at the state of their new home. Helen meets a wealthy man, ten years her junior, and moves out of the flat she shares with her daughter when she marries him. It's a play that examines working class lives, expectations for women, sexuality and racial prejudice- a lot to take on during the two hour run time.
There's much to unpack in this play. Josephine gets engaged to a 22 year old sailor while dressed in her school uniform. The romance doesn't work out and she finds herself unmarried and pregnant while still in her teens. A friend and art student, Geoffrey (Stuart Thompson) moves in with her and offers to marry her and raise the child- and hide his own homosexuality. It is easy to draw conclusions that Jo's life has taken a downturn because of the selfishness of her own mother and the example that she set for her.
A Taste Of Honey is a pretty bleak story which is peppered with humour. Jodie Prenger excels as Helen who switches between brash and confident to submissive in her new marriage. She's a complex character as she isn't particularly likeable but it becomes hard not to feel sorry for her as her husband screams that he "dragged her out of the gutter".
Hildegard Bechtler's set design is true to the time period the piece is set in and definitely gives you the feeling of a damp, dreary flat.
A Taste Of Honey isn't a pleasant watch. Well fleshed out characters who you grow attached to over the duration of the play are not given an easy time of it. However, Delaney's writing is so clever and offers some light relief that makes it a more palatable though still disturbing experience.
A Taste Of Honey is at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh until 28 September.
Photo credit: Marc Brenner