The Coliseum, Oldham; Friday 25th May, 2018
First performed almost exactly sixty years ago, A Taste of Honey was created by Salford-born writer Shelagh Delaney when she was just 18 years old. The subsequent film adaptation is widely recognised as the inspiration for what has now become the world’s longest running television soap opera: Coronation Street.
Set in Salford during the 1950s, A Taste of Honey follows the dysfunctional relationship between Helen and Jo – a mother and daughter family unit struggling to remain united in the face of desperate attempts by both individuals to make it on their own.
The abrasive nature of the mother and daughter interaction is the prevailing theme of the performance. Kerrie Taylor’s portrayal of mother Helen is shocking – a woman who seems to deliberately inflict cruelty on her own child in a pathetic attempt to try and make something worthwhile out of her own.
And in response Gemma Dobson in the role of daughter Jo retreats into a world of sadness and self-pity, and eventually straight into the arms of the first man to show her attention.
A Taste of Honey is a gruelling and uncompromising depiction of northern life in the 1950s. There is suffering born from many sources: poverty, alcoholism, loneliness, racism, homophobia – all of these are evident in the actions and behaviours of mother Helen, and all are transferred into the life of her daughter – who has no viable chance to escape any of it.
This is an absorbing and almost uncomfortable play to watch – the overriding theme seems to be the cruelty being inflicted by mother onto daughter, all promoted by circumstances and events going on around them. But this makes A Taste of Honey a compelling watch, a genuinely gritty and abrasive snapshot of how to make it in the real world when the odds are so stacked against you.
|Visual pleasure||Beautifully evocative set, depicting a barely tolerable bedsit where most of the action took place.||4|
|Auditory pleasure||A little lacking in musical and/or sound effects, subtle hints of life on the streets surfaced every now and again in the form of a bell ringing or a factory foghorn.||2|
|Architecture & Theme||Very compelling storyline, this is a very well written play with twisting plots and multiple possibilities in terms of where it can go at any one point. Kept the audience guessing till the end.||4|
|Artistic delivery||Good acting performances with Kerrie Taylor standing out in the lead role of Helen. The pace seemed a little too quick though, almost as if there was a hurry to get the show completed, would have benefited from lingering slightly longer on the more powerful scenes.||3|
|Overall impact||A thoroughly entertaining show that presents the harsh realities of real life with no attempt at glamour or glitz. Arguably it’s a little depressing but then it tells a story that is both believable and honest.||3|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|