The National Theatre’s production of Shelagh Delaney’s classic play ‘A Taste of Honey’ will tour the UK this Autumn, opening at The Lowry in September. It is also travelling to the Wolverhampton Grand in November, with Jodie Prenger playing Helen, the role made famous by Dora Bryon. With Jodie currently starring in the Midlands, playing Miss Hannigan in Annie at the Birmingham Hippodrome, there was an opportunity to take part in a round table discussion about the play, and the exciting new production.
Here are some of the highlights of the discussion.
On Jodie’s Introduction to A Taste of Honey
I was first introduced to it about 8 years ago, a friend gave it me to read. I loved the mother and daughter relationship. My family came from Manchester and it was like hearing my nan’s voice, I saw a lot of my nan in Helen. It was a play that just shouted Manchester to me.
Legacy of the play
There is a beating heart of Manchester. It is a city that has been up against so much, but fights and strives and has so much humour. The play echoes this and I think this is something that will translate to other parts of the country too.
What Helen would make of Salford Now
It’s changed so much hasn’t it, with Media City, and it still keeps changing. I do wonder what Helen would think of it, but Shelagh Delaney just loved Manchester.
How Helen is perceived
I think Helen is all about keeping it real. I don’t find Helen to be a monster (as she was reported in the reviews in the 1960s) but as a character, or victim of circumstance. When playing Helen you need to keep it real so she comes through as human. You need to make the relationships believable, take cues from people you have met along the way. Helen and her daughter do clash, but they are also so alike.
On playing the Iconic roles
I have been lucky, I am drawn to strong female characters like Helen, and Shirley (Valentine) and Beverley (Abigail’s Party). I seem to have every corner filled!
Is A Taste of Honey still shocking?
It was very taboo back in the 1960s. I do think we have moved forward in accepting most of the themes (homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, interracial relationships) but I still think we have a long way to go.
The Class Struggles in the Play
I remember speaking to my nan and she used to tell me about a great aunt who had a cafe right in the heart of Manchester in the 1950s, and her stories showed there was definitely a class struggle then. There was an ethos of battling through, of just wanting better.
For Helen we’ve used the aesthetic of Amy Winehouse with the beehive and 50s style and heavy make up. The style is 1950s in origin, but could also be modern day as it is a style you can see now. The set is also incredible, not full of mod cons, and has a 50s vibe, but could be anytime.
A Taste of Honey
You take away a very special experience from ‘A Taste of Honey’. You always get that with a National Theatre production.
A TASTE OF HONEY Wolverhampton Grand
05 Nov – 09 Nov 2019
Click here for ticket information