The play that 'invented' the soap opera is heading to Edinburgh's King's starring Jodie Prenger
THERE’S an argument to be had that without Shelagh Delaney’s remarkable taboo-breaking 1950's play A Taste of Honey, there would be no soap operas.
The original kitchen-sink drama it single-handedly created the genre now so loved by fans of Corrie and Albert Square.Next week, the King’s Theatre welcomes Bijan Sheibani’s National Theatre production of the piece.
First produced in the Lyttelton Theatre in 2014, designed by Hildegard Bechtler, it has been reconceived in a new take which features a live on stage band, for the tour.Jodie Prenger, star of Oliver!, One Man, Two Guvnors and most recently at The King’s, Abigail’s Party, will play Helen, the part made famous by the legendary Dora Bryan in the film version.
Written by Delaney when she was just 1961, A Taste of Honey offers an explosive celebration of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the female spirit in a deprived and restless world.
When her mother Helen runs off with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with Jimmy, a sailor who promises to marry her, before he heads for the seas 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 setup unravels.
An exhilarating depiction of working-class life in post-war Salford, this production features sound design by Ian Dickinson with music by composer Paul Englishby. Delaney wrote the piece, her first play, in ten days after seeing Rattigan’s Variation of a Theme in Manchester.
She famously sent the script to Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and the play opened at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1958 before transferring to the West End. It was later made into a feature film with Rita Tushingham, Bryan and Murray Melvin in the lead roles while the Broadway transfer featured Joan Plowright and Angela Landsury.
Director Sheibani is an award winning theatre and opera director, whose previous credits include Barber Shop Chronicles, Emil and the Detectives, The Kitchen, and Our Class.
The cast is completed by Durone Stokes as Jimmie, Stuart Thompson as Geoff, Tom Varey as Peter and Gemma Dobson as Jo.
A Taste of Honey, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Tuesday 24 September-28 September, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £10-£33, 0131- 529 6000, Suitable 13+