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Review: A Taste of Honey, Theatre Royal Norwich

Jodie Prenger heads up the National Theatre cast of this ‘kitchen sink’ drama which throws a very sharp spotlight on working class life in northern England in the 1950s.

I’m not quite old enough to remember this exact period but I certainly recall the hardship etched on my grandparents’ faces, reflecting the harsh lifestyle they had faced.

This is a first-class version of Shelagh Delaney’s unsentimental play, written when she was just a teenager herself, and about her own world.

A Taste of Honey (21528969)
A Taste of Honey (21528969)

It was pretty controversial at the time - putting women centre stage, featuring one who wasn’t that maternal, an unmarried one with a baby by an absent black sailor, and a gay man.

The mother (Prenger) and her daughter (played by Gemma Dobson) shout and swear at each other, are not worried about keeping house and are certainly not put forward as role models.

Most of us will recognise bits of ourselves in them.

A three-piece jazz band is on stage throughout, giving a modern twist to the piece, as the characters often break into song.

It’s not a production that necessarily goes anywhere - each character is constantly looking for an escape but there appears to be none. Rather we feel their frustrations and despair at their situations.

The show runs until Saturday.

Sarah Hardy

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