Friday, April 24, 2009

A Taste of Honey


23rd April

Jim Hutchon was at The Old Court ...

Vince Webb and Debbie Miles’ production of Shelagh Delaney’s 50s play was a real tonic - a beautifully written drama, well acted and directed with a sure touch. Helen, the bitter whore mother with the depth of character of a cigarette paper was played convincingly by Angie Gee who combined banal observations with street wisdom – “There’s two Ws in your future – Work or Want”. The play revolves around the unmarried pregnant daughter Jo, who is a mixture of immature hopelessness and defiant hope. Emma Moriaty played the role with great depth of feeling and a well-judged balance.

The overt racism confronted in the play involves the ‘black boy’ who impregnates then deserts Jo. He was played with grace and an impeccable sense of timing by Tony Thomson. The other shibboleth was raised by the gay student Geoffrey, nicely understated by Liam Collins, who drifts in to stay, tries to impart a sense of order then drifts out again. Helen’s shallow, drunken, spiv, part-time boyfriend, who crashes his unfeeling way through the action, was played with characteristic style by Steve Holding.

The set was a triumph, a depressingly authentic run-down rented room with damp walls, over-stuffed sofa, bare light bulbs, exploding gas hob and a view over the abattoir.

Though there are funny moments, this is not a barrel of laughs. The pace was maintained throughout the very wordy drama, and the final silhouette of Jo in her window presaged a future of hope. The directors call this a piece of social history, but the inherent racism and homophobia in the text ring as true today as ever they did.

1 comment:

John Richardson said...

As I said when I came out 'it's a very sad ending' .. the one person who cares for her is 'not wanted on voyage' and she is more or less abandoned by the mother who never really loved her in the first place and who
wouldn't have been much use at the birth !

I had to work hard to understand everything that was said in the opening scene - not always clear.

It's good that they are doing the 'proper' version and have NOT pussyfooted around the 'racist' comments .. I wonder what the black lad's mum thought when she heard them ! Oddly enough they are more shocking to our ears today than the anti-gay comments, where we wonder what the fuss is about. How times have changed.

Mother's cold was REALLY well acted, as were daughter's last scene pregnant movements. Should also compliment the director on the way the 'love scene' with the 6'7" black sailor did not look awkward. I only realised 'how tall' when he stood next to me (5'11") after the play !

Without knowing quite what to do about it I wasn't convinced that Geoffrey (think that was his name - should have bought a programme !) was gay. He looked good on stage and acted well but not in any way that would have sparked Steve's comments (or her mother's). Personally I'm pleased they didn't take the John Inman or 'limp wrist and flappy hand' option. Maybe more could have been made with his 'don't touch me' opening scene ...

My main complaint, however, has to be the LENGTHY 'scene changes' .. though I admit these may have been necessary to allow changes of costume  .. but they were a bit yawny .. to me it looked as if they lacked 'organisation' as there were quite a few 'comings and goings'

Not that I'm a great follower of the CTW 'company' I think that there were new faces, which is very encouraging.

Post a Comment