Published: 06:00, 30 September 2019
| Updated: 11:57, 03 October 2019
Written when she was just 19, Shelagh Delaney’s taboo-breaking 1950s play A Taste of Honey offers an explosive celebration of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the female spirit in a deprived and restless world.
The gritty working class tale, which stars Jodie Prenger, comes to the Canterbury stage this week.
When her mother Helen runs off with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with Jimmie, a sailor who promises to marry her, before he heads for sea, leaving her pregnant and alone.
Art student Geoff moves in and assumes the role of surrogate parent until, misguidedly, he sends for Helen and their unconventional set-up unravels. The new production by Bijan Sheibani, which features a live on-stage band, stars Jodie Prenger as Helen, with Gemma Dobson as Jo, Durone Stokes as Jimmie, Stuart Thompson as Geoffrey and Tom Varey as Peter.
Jodie, who got her first taste of fame in the BBC’s I’d Do Anything in 2008, said of the story: “I read it and just loved it.
It spoke to me because my Mum’s side of the family are all from the Manchester area and I just really related to it. When I went for the audition, I just thought “I’m going to do my Nan.” It was her voice; I could just hear it.” And of her character, Jo’s mother, Helen, a hardened, single mother, she says: “I love her grit. I love her brassiness. Her humour is exceptional. There’s so much I love about her, but she’s flawed in many ways too.”
A Taste Of Honey is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from Tuesday, October 1 to Saturday, October 5.