A Taste of Honey
New production of the Shelagh Delaney’s milestone kitchen sink drama
‘We have a lot to be grateful for in Shelagh Delaney,’ muses Tony Cownie, whose new production of the Salford playwright’s kitchen sink drama A Taste of Honey comes to the Lyceum in January. He’s not wrong. Although Delaney was only 18 years old when she wrote the piece, its comments on race, gender, sexual orientation and class brought such issues into the theatrical landscape and inspired a new generation of writers, in particular young, female, working class dramatists.
‘It gave people from the margins of society a chance to see themselves portrayed on stage and to feel that what they were going through was important,’ Cownie continues. ‘It was absolute dynamite at the time.’
Though the story appears bittersweet on the outside – a young girl abandoned by her promiscuous mother becomes pregnant by her black sailor boyfriend before shacking up with a sexually ambiguous male friend – a bold Northern humour is evident throughout.
‘Authenticity is very important in the play. It was very important for me to find actors that can get the rhythm of the language so that when you hear it spoken it trips off the tongue.’
Far from seeming dated, Cownie believes the issues explored in the play will always raise hackles, no matter who is watching, or when.
‘If you don’t learn from the past you repeat it. It’s all very well to talk about these issues, but they don’t just go away. I’m sure we’ll still be speaking about this in another 50 years.’
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Jan–Sat 9 Feb