A Taste of Honey

It was 1958 that saw Sharagh Delaney’s first play hit the stage, and it isn’t hard to imagine how totally stupefied the contemporary audience must have been. This is a play about a working class girl who falls pregnant by a black sailor, is abandoned and picked up again by none other than a homosexual art student. And all of this written by an 18 year old!

Delaney’s youth shines through beautifully in the electric vigour at the heart of the play.

However, Delaney’s youth shines through beautifully in the electric vigour at the heart of the play. Energy pulsates through every sentence, and the wonderfully talented actors in this production do well to keep up at all times. It must be said though that the lightening-quick yapping, seemingly as high and loud as is humanly possible, can leave everyone - including the audience – a little breathless.

The few moments of relief are afforded to us by the very welcome melodic ditties that pepper the production. Indeed, Paul Englishby’s score is downright charming, lifting the play out of its grim cycles of desperation and greyness. Despite a largely fruitful marriage of sound and script, however, there are times that merry choreography confuses the sombre nature of the scene it accompanies. While this does play nicely with the idea that these women step up the bravado the more they are quashed by circumstance – their own fight or flight response - these interludes can come at the expense of characterisation.

Despite the many issues this play attempts to grapple with, it’s the mother-daughter dynamic that takes centre stage and boy does Lesley Manning do it justice. Indeed, she is mother as well as mother-nature, gusting through life without a backwards glance. Indeed, Manning is sheer unapologetic sass, but retains a complexity of character that intimates a deep maternal instinct.

The narrative is engaging enough and really picks up in the second half, a momentum owed to a wonderfully delicate performance from Harry Hepple. At times this kitchen-sink drama grated on my 21st century sensibilities; the idea that Jo’s ghastly family would intuitively if not psychically know the conventional Geoffrey to be a ‘homo’ seemed at best ridiculous, at worst offensive. However, despite minor inconsistencies the play is captivating on the whole, and offers a genuine window into a largely lost time and place. The acting is terrifically on point across the board - a striking synchronisation of comic timing and grave sobriety – and is the true taste of honey in this play.

Reviews by Emma Banks

Almeida Theatre


Battersea Arts Centre

The Rove

National Theatre

A Taste of Honey


The Light Princess


Blurred Lines


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Written by Shelagh Delaney when she was nineteen, A Taste of Honey is one of the great defining and taboo-breaking plays of the 1950s.

When her mother Helen runs off with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with a black 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.

A Taste of Honey offers an explosive celebration of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the female spirit in a deprived and restless world. Bursting with energy and daring, this exhilarating and angry depiction of harsh, working-class life in post-war Salford is shot through with love and humour, and infused with jazz.

Most Popular See More


From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £35.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets