Monday, 28 April 2014

'A Taste of Honey' National Theatre, Lyttleton ***

 The National Theatre’s revival of Shelagh Delaney's 1959 play ‘A Taste of Honey’ was not as thrilling as I anticipated. Written in the time when the kitchen sink dramas were being allowed to be performed on stages across the United Kingdom, especially John Osborne's ‘Look Back in Anger’, which the iron was used onstage for the very first time. ‘A Taste of Honey’ explains the pressure of working-class life in the north of England, in a country that's it is recovering after the Second World War and post rationing. We are introduced to Helen and her teenage daughter, Josephine, who due to a lack of money have had to move into one bedroom flat that has seen better days and re-evaluate their lives. However when Helen's toy boy boyfriend, Peter arrives on the scene, it seems that Helen only cares about herself and abandons her only child to live in luxury, surrounded with and an array of money. Unfortunately the narrative and the flow from one scene to another lacks quite a lot of energy and I became slightly bored at moments. This is very disappointing as the National Theatre is my favourite theatre and the work produced within the building on the South Bank is normally exceptional, but that this production wasn't particularly enthralling. The play was written by a nineteen year old, who did not have much theatrical knowledge and to be truthful I can see where this is apparent and why the dialogue lacks finesse and raw entertainment value. Quite appalling! The performances by the company of ‘A Taste of Honey’ were of a satisfactory level of precision and the characterisation was pretty lacklustre. I found that Lesley Sharp’s portrayal of the inconsiderate mother, Helen needed more emotion, especially in the arguments she has with her daughter and her daughter’s friend. She certainly didn't live up to the hype that was included into the marketing of the play. Kate O’Flynn is acceptable as the teenager Josephine, who becomes pregnant by a black sailor, and at the time it was a shameful action. Dean Lennox Kelly is good as Helen is rich boyfriend/husband Peter. I thought that when the character has his drunken moment his movements were wonderfully executed. Eric Kofi Abrefa and Harry Hepple were agreeable as Josephine’s partners Jimmy and Geoffrey. The direction by Bijan Sheibani was not that fantastic as the Lyttelton stage wasn't used to its full potential and I found Hildegard Betchler’s set design looked too amateur inspired, so I was quite aggravated by this shameful production.

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