A Taste of Honey is a moving, funny and thought-provoking play that gives you a glimpse into a slice of life as a working-class woman in Salford back in the 50s.
The National Theatre production brings all the theatricality to the narrative to bring it to life in an inventive and profound way. It’s a ground-breaking play that sheds a light on the vulnerabilities and obstacles of a deprived woman.
With an on stage band that accompany some of the light singing weaved into the play, the music provides a distinct ambience. It’s a play with a linear narrative that rarely climaxes. However, the music creates a sense of atmosphere as the subtle moments of drama are lifted by a ingenious score.
Jodie Prenger, known for her belting vocals and expressive character shines in the leading role of Helen. She brings precision to the character as she displays her extroverted nature whilst letting her weakness seep through. She has a fighting northern female spirit, but we desperately empathise as she keeps following the wrong path. Whether it’s useless men, poor maternal choices or her struggle with alcohol, she is desperate. The choices she makes has a direct affect on her daughter Jo who is a young girl without a lot of options.
Moving from house to house and school to school, Jo has an unsettled life and despite her good intentions, we follow her trying to get out of her situation. In the second act, Jo meets Geoffrey played by Stuart Thompson who brings a beautiful tenderness to the role. He cares deeply for Jo and they form an unbreakable friendship as two people who seem to lack a place in the world. Through finding each-other, they manage to look past their situations and get by. Thompson’s depiction of Geoffrey is sincere and kind-hearted making the audience instantly contact with him.
Gemma Dobson plays Jo with authenticity. Her natural approach to the role creates a character that we can’t help but feel for. Dobson and Prenger’s relationship on stage is packed with heated arguments and painful conversations all mothers and daughters can relate to. Through that, the dialogue has a superb wit that makes these characters essentially four-dimensional.
A Taste of Honey is a play about human flaws, mistakes and the way our lives move in a circle. It’s an engaging story told by a group of compelling actors that mesmerise you with their story.
On at Wolverhampton Grand until Sat 9 Nov, tickets and information can be found on their website.