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16 Sages

shell pebble

Bitter & sweet

A Taste of Honey: A Play - Shelagh Delaney

Delaney wrote this little play, about a working class mother and daughter struggling in Manchester, when she was only 18. Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop developed and produced it in 1958.

It was a radical production because it starred two women. That Jo's nameless boyfriend (and therefore, to her mother's distress, her baby) is Black, that her kind and caring male friend is (implicitly) gay, and that her absent father's mental disability hangs troublingly over her must all have been highly provocative at the time.

I love this funny, painful play and other working-class dramas like those of Willy Russell in the English theatre tradition. The theatre has been a great place for the the British and Irish to shout back at oppression, ask questions, reveal their feelings and demand their rights. The tradition of radical theatre is still strong, growing and changing, and Delaney, like Littlewood is one of its brilliant pathmakers.

You can also watch the utterly wonderful film adaptation. I think the sound is fantastic, and the shooting style is classic in the best possible way. The National Theatre in London did a production this season, but I couldn't get an affordable ticket, which felt a bit ironic.