National Theatre/The Lowry rehearsal pic

The National Theatre’s production of A Taste of Honey starts its UK tour at The Lowry tonight.

Jodie Prenger leads the cast as Helen with Gemma Dobson as Jo, Durone Stokes as Jimmy, Stuart Thompson as Geoffrey, and Tom Varey as Peter.

An exhilarating depiction of working-class life in 1950s Salford, Shelagh Delaney wrote her remarkable taboo-breaking first play in just ten days after seeing Terence Rattigan’s Variation of a Theme at the Opera House in Manchester and believing she could do better. She was just nineteen.

Delaney sent the script to Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and the play opened at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1958 before transferring to the West End.

Pic National Theatre/The Lowry

It was later made into a feature film with Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan and Murray Melvin and went on to influence everything from Coronation Street to The Smiths.

When her mother Helen runs off with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with Jimmy, a sailor, who promises to marry her, before heading back to sea.

She falls pregnant, art student Geoff moves in and assumes the role of surrogate parent until he sends for Helen and their unconventional set-up unravels.

It may be more than 60 years old and the Salford it portrays may no longer exist but, like all great works of art, A Taste of Honey still rings true today.

It opens at The Lowry tonight (Friday 13th September) and runs until Saturday 21st September before going on tour.

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