Monday, 5 May 2014
A Taste of Honey - Derby Theatre
Derby Theatre's latest offering is a revival of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey co-produced with Hull Truck Theatre. When I first flicked through the spring brochure from Derby Theatre, this was the production that caught my eye so when I was offered tickets, I jumped at the chance.
It's a complete change of mood to the last performance I saw at Derby Theatre - The Odyssey. Set in late 1950s Salford, A Taste of Honey is a real-life, 'kitchen-sink' drama that tells the story of Jo (Rebecca Ryan) and her man-hunting mother Helen (Julie Riley). When Helen goes off with yet another man, Jo turns to black sailor Jimmy for comfort. His shore-leave over, Jimmy has to return to his ship and Jo is left alone ...... and pregnant....
For a play written over 50 years ago, it feels remarkably up to date and as relevant now as then. I almost felt that if the setting and clothes hadn't been so obviously from the 1950s that it could have passed for a modern piece.
My first introduction to A Taste of Honey was many, many years ago at school, as one of a series of films, along with others such as Cathy Come Home, shown to interest us in current affairs and spark debates over the topics raised. So I've always rather seen it as a drama-documentary dealing with the 'issues' of single motherhood, homophobia or racism. Watching Derby Theatre's co-production with Hull Truck Theatre this last week I realised it's about much more - each and every character is looking for that elusive thing "love'. Do they find it? Well, go along and find out.
The cast are all excellent, particularly Rebecca Ryan and Julie Riley; it moves quickly from laughter to tears - and back again; and is great entertainment while still giving you something to think about.