New review: a taste of the 1950s

by Megan Stodel // 5 February 2013, 11:07

Written almost 60 years ago, A Taste of Honey has stayed relevant (some of the time), finds Rowena McIntosh

Rebecca Ryan as Jo and Lucy Black as Helen.jpg

"Have I ever laid claim to being a good mother?" asks one of the characters in revival of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey. Later, her daughter voices similar anxieties about maternity: "I don't want to be a mother! I don't want to be a woman!"

The play follows women scratching out a living in the middle of the last century, dealing with challenging circumstances and their own strained relationships. Helen struggles with alcoholism and can't connect with her teenage daughter Jo, who fears, more than anything, turning into her mother. Rowena McIntosh notes how ahead of the curve some of the themes of the play were:

Shelagh Delaney was only 18 when she wrote A Taste of Honey. After having dropped out of school at 16 and worked her way through a handful of low paid jobs, she wrote the play in a matter of two weeks. With this in mind, whilst a dramatization of a storyline involving single mothers and teenage pregnancy is run of the mill soap opera material today, the play's analysis of what it means to "be a woman" is remarkably insightful for the late 1950s.

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Photo by Alan McCredie.

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