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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Theatre - A Taste of Honey - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Star rating - 6/10

I'm not sure if some of the gritty Mancunian (or Salfordian if you're being really picky)  attitude got lost somewhere over the Pennines, but the current revival of Shelagh Delaney's 1950's kitchen sink drama A Taste of Honey feels a little flat.

It still amazes me that a young woman of eighteen could write such a great play, and to possess such wisdom about the world she inhabited with all its frailties and prejudices. And Katie West is excellent as Jo, the sixteen year old who finds herself pregnant, broke, and alone, save for her gay soul mate and considerably inadequate mother. But Eva Pope does not just feel right as Helen, the woman with the severely lacking maternal instinct who trails her daughter from one shabby bedsit to another, ending up in-between the slaughterhouse and the gasworks. Pope is far too attractive and stylish for the part for one thing, and she just did not feel comfortable with the dialogue in places. 

In places the play just felt like a series of shouting matches between the characters, which made it difficult to follow with the sense of empathy that is required. But the scenes between Jo and her friend, played beautifully by Christopher Hancock, as he tries desperately to make up for the deficiencies in Jo's situation, whilst coming to terms with his own issues of sexuality, are lovely. But overall the production does not quite measure up - I would watch the brilliant 1961 film with Rita Tushingham and Dora Bryan instead for the real spirit of Delaney's drama.

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