Thomas W. Hodgkinson

A Taste of Honey

By Shelagh Delaney 
Trafalgar Studios, London

In 1958, a 19-year-old Shelagh Delaney sent her debut drama to the theatre director Joan Littlewood, claiming she’d just seen a play for the first time and had been transfigured. It was a lie — Delaney was actually a longtime theatre enthusiast. But Littlewood bought it and staged A Taste of Honey to vast acclaim. The striking thing about this excellent revival is how little this witty, wintry kitchen-sink drama has aged. The man-eating mother (Jodie Prenger), her piratical boyfriend (Tom Varey), the disillusioned daughter (Gemma Dobson) and her sweet-natured gay best friend (Stuart Thompson) all feel as familiar as ever. In the stronger second half, Dobson and Thompson make the hopeless humour sing as they attempt a lavender marriage, with all the fragility that implies. The result is achingly poignant.