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A Taste of Honey: A Play
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A Taste of Honey: A Play

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,000 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Jo, the teenage heroine who lives in a filthy tenement bedsitter, is deserted by her nagging peroxided mother, who is unaware that her daughter is pregnant by a black sailor. Jo's greatest fear is that her illegitimate baby might be mentally deficient like her own father. To soothe, clean and cook for her is Geof, an effeminate art student, with whom she makes a temporary ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 11th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1956)
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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,000 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delaney wrote this little play, about a working class mother and daughter struggling in Manchester, when she was only 18. Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop developed and produced it in 1958.

It was a radical production because it starred two women. That Jo's nameless boyfriend (and therefore, to her mother's distress, her baby) is Black, that her kind and caring male friend is (implicitly) gay, and that her absent father's mental disability hangs troublingly over her must all have been highly pr
Trever Polak
I read this because Wikipedia said Delaney was on the cover of the "Girlfriend in a Coma" single and Morrisey claimed she was a big inspiration for him. I guess I can see how the characters' manners of speech reflect Moz's lyrical style, certainly it does moreso than Wilde, but the topic matter is a bit different. The drama wasn't really there but as a character study and work of realism it's a good first play.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: pre-2010
I just remembered that I'd read this (for a class) while shelving another book with the same title. I admit I don't remember my own reaction to the play terribly well, but what I do remember is that this was the text that made me realise how biased reading can be, because the gay character that to me seemed very out on page (there's a whole plot point about losing his lodgings after a landlord caught him with a man) was completely denialled and missed by some of my classmates.

Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
In this play, Delaney has sought to to speak for marginalised and unrepresented voices – those that are homosexual, teenagers, and single mothers. She rejects nostalgic Northern working class identities associated with strict gender roles in the gay man/straight woman relationship between Josephine and Geoffrey Ingham. She also rejects the stereotype of the witless and passive working class in the biting sarcastic duologues between Jo and her mother, Helen. Jo also present a cheerful willingness ...more
Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this also at school as part of the curriculum and I thought it was great; we had to debate it's content afterwards and some good discussions arose from the book.
Emma Rund
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scripts, by-women
I can’t believe this was first produced in 1958! It’s way ahead of its time: addressing women’s rights to their bodies as well as sexuality and race. Did I mention it’s written by a women? Why don’t we read this play in modern theatre history?
From BBC Radio 4 Extra - 4 Extra Debut.
A pregnant teenage girl and her feckless mother trade insults and repartee in 1950s Salford. Stars Siobhan Finneran.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

‘A Taste of Honey’ was not sweet. It swarmed with parched wit and rushed dialogue. Jo and Helen were not sympathetic characters and Geof and Peter were equally as bad in their own ways. The only character I liked was the father of Jo’s baby, who was ironically never given a name.

Act 1 Scene 1 – as an opening, this lacked dramatic impact. Jo and Helen didn’t give me the impression that they’d existed before their entry into the flat and they didn’t particularly exist while th
I don't read plays, haven't done since school. Back then I didn't particularly enjoy it, as I'd rather either read a novel or see a performance, not be stuck in some grey area between the two. After reading this play, I can't say my opinion has changed a lot. I could appreciate the skill in telling a story mainly in dialogue with just a few stage directions to add context, but I really missed the emotion and depth that I know would be there in a performance. Because this is a story I would like ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: female, english, play
A Taste of Honey is a wonderful vignette of 1950s working-class Britain. It exposes and challenges the then contemporary views of race, homosexuality and single motherhood through its realistic and shrewd writing - issues that Shelagh Delaney felt were being underrepresented in British theatre.

The non-resolution of the plot encourages speculation towards events following the ending, but the relative stagnancy of the characters and narrative ultimately limits the play to remaining within the conf
Mike Steven
I read this because it is a potential Literature GCSE text and I think I should know them all in my job. It's not on the paper I mark, but it's always worth knowing all potential texts.

I find it difficult to judge plays too much from just a reading - they are, after all, written to be viewed and not read. Nevertheless, this didn't do much for me. It's very dated and of it's time - and while perhaps it provides an interesting socio-historic perspective, the scandals that were possibly shocking to
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
This play has fantastic dialogue. I had to scramble for my pen constantly as I read it to write down great snarky one-liners (i.e. "The extent of my credulity always depends on the extent of my alcoholic intake"). "A Taste of Honey" was a favorite of that great effeminate Mancunian sad sack, the Moz. He lifted several song lyrics verbatim from the text in question.

The play, indeed, reads a little bit like the theatrical version of a Smiths album. That is, marginalized Northern working-class stif
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hated most of the characters, the plot was nonsensical (I get it, it's a kitchen sink drama, but it's not for me), and the ending came so full circle that it wasn't even clever, just predictable and underwhelming. The only plus was that it was well-written. The banter between Helen and Jo was realistic and quite endearing at times; that is until I realized it was not supposed to be banter, but actual arguments.
*read this for school*
Louise Hanley
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
2.5 stars.

This book is hailed as a theatre great... but nothing happened.

I understand the themes and social messages within it, and many of them hold a lot of worth. And the dialogue was quite witty at times, but I can't get over the lack of any REAL plot.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saw the movie, saw the play and now finally read the script.

Oh, and listened a million times to the songs it spawned. I had fun reading this and underlining all the lines that found their way into Morrissey lyrics.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
"I'm not sorry and I'm not glad."

"I dreamt of you last night, and fell out of bed twice."

"Oh well, the dream's gone, but the baby's real enough."

"You need someone to love you while you look for someone to love."
Jul 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
"The devil looks after his own, they say"
Rhys Harley
Read this play during school for one of the exams that I had to sit.
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it

A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney
Modern, dynamic and very good- 9 out of 10

I can still see Rita Tushingham – if I do not have the wrong name- the actress in the lead role in the adaptation for the screen of this excellent play.
The play is exploring the dynamics of modern couples, one involving mixed races and another a much older woman and a young man.
It is all good and nice to have trendy relationships but I would say if they work and when they do not affect collateral victims.
The mother belo
“I wonder if we ever catch up with ourselves?”
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This was the cause of much controversy when it appeared in 1958. A white girl is pregnant and her black boyfriend probably won't be coming back. Her mother is a 'semi-whore' and her only friend a confused homosexual. The author, 18 at the time, also the girl on the sleeve of The Smiths' extraordinary Girlfriend in a Coma single, is pushing these issues relentlessly resulting in some cool moments ("Did your ancestors come from Africa?" "No. Cardiff? Disappointed?") but the ground that these issue ...more
Robert Bone
I chose to read this play for my English Coursework mainly because it was the shortest option! But I'm glad I did.
Delaney's simple (or non-existent) stage directions leaves a large amount to the imagination, with the only thing keeping you entertained being the quick witted comebacks of Helen, and the subtle hints of their true views on society, and the people around them (which are made even more incredible as you never find out completely): I still am conflicted over Helen and Jo's true relati
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I Have to admit i haven't read many nor am i a big fan of plays, so you can keep that in mind when reading my review. It isn't a terribly long play and (if you ask me it has a ghastly ending)its gets the point across quite well without the inclination for the "Word Vomit" that many playwrights fall victim too in trying to get the point across. Overall it was a good story with some funny quips and what is most valuable from what i can see, A clear and non-revisionist point of view of what it was ...more
I don't think my professor for this women playwrights class knows how to assign a happy play. This one is lighter than the others have been, but it is very gritty. The setting of the play sounds like a slum in or around London. Everything on the set sounds filthy. Then bring in the characters. They are at home in their setting. Then add in biting dialogue. There are some great one liners here. Every single character is bitter about something. Every character is looking for something. Delaney doe ...more
Michael Meeuwis
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weirder--less realistic, far more metatheatrical--than I remember. In its way a monolith of the late-50s English stage, but fizzy and heartbreaking enough to transcend just being a representative sample of the Kitchen Sink. (Social drama: one (1) unit.) A fine movie, but I feel the filming--just by being a film--misses out on the play's more abstract elements. I might say, the play gives impressions of what living amidst postwar poverty was like; but this is not at all the somewhat dour bit of n ...more
Yup, 100% Salford here for you. Exactly what I hate the most about my side of town perfectly portrayed in this slim play: women making babies without wanting them with almost every man passing through their life; and then proceeding to make the life of said kids hell on Earth. All while drinking themselves stupid and obviously considering everyone but themselves guilty for their faith. Plus let's not forget the xenophobia just alluded at in the book, in the form then present of the black man, bu ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tragicomedy wracked with the suffering of the Salford working class. Delaney's daring ability to confront huge themes of race, teen pregnancy, infidelity and homosexuality, all in such an enclosed setting, is such a joy to read. I lost a lot of admiration for Morrissey reading this after realising how many of his lyrics are lifted from these pages, without much credit given to their true author. But never mind. I still like him, but Shelagh, take a, Shelagh, take a bow. No, a longer one. Lap i ...more
C.M. Crockford
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very dismal, funny, and emotional piece of work about lives of quiet desperation-in short, a play that Morrissey would lovingly steal from (there is a strong argument to make that the Smiths are the greatest working class band). The play is defiantly working class, but its characters are witty and funny, even as they're drawn from some pretty clear archetypes. They contain huge reserves of loneliness and love, and no one to give it to. One of those works that Moz fans like myself turn to to un ...more
Angie Rhodes
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I remember reading this play at high school and watching the film, staring Dora Bryan and Rita Tushingham.
Set in Salford, it tells the story of Jo, a young girl, her romance with a black sailor(which in the late fifties, early sixties,was frowned upon) her wayward mother and her alcoholic husband,
It is, in some way a comedy, though it does relay a serious element, that of the mother and daughter dynamics, especially when it's the daughter who seems to be one to act more like an adult,, Brillian
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