Friday, 7 March 2014

A Taste Of Honey review

Four stars

LAST year, Kate O'Flynn wowed audiences when she played a northern teenager in Port at the National Theatre's Lyttelton stage.
Now she's back at the Lyttelton and playing another troubled northern teen, Jo, in a new production of Shelagh Delaney's kitchen sink play A Taste Of Honey.
Jo has just moved into a shabby flat in Salford, next to the gasworks and the abatoir, with her tarty mum Helen (Lesley Sharp).
Life appears bleak - they have little money, not much in the way of food and they have to share a bed.
With her peroxide blonde hair and non stop and often nasty chatter Helen is not the most likeable character. She's certainly not the most maternal and when she runs off with her latest boyfriend Peter, you can almost see Jo's sigh of relief.
However, it is tempered when Jo finds she is pregnant by a short-lived affair with Jimmy, a sailor who has now gone back to see despite promising marriage.
With Jimmy and Helen gone, Jo seeks solace with her gay friend Geoffrey who offers her a stability she hasn't had before. Life appears happier and much less volatile - until Helen comes back.
Kate O'Flynn is superb as Jo showing a vulnerability alongside a no nonsense typical teenage defiant attitude as she tries to come to terms with her lot in life.
Lesley Sharp as Helen is stunning. Skittish, flighty and flirty she dances around the stage, chatting inanely, posing and preening - a woman of no morals or care for her daughter and with a viscious nasty tongue which she uses to devastating effect. It is a glorious performance.
The pair are brilliantly supported by Eric Kofi Abrefa as the charming and gentle sailor Jimmy, Harry Hepple as Geoffrey and Dean Lennox Kelly as Helen's seedy and drunk boyfriend Peter.
This is a terrific production and despite the bleakness there is a warmth and humour to the piece which shines through.

A Taste Of Honey is on at the Lyttelton stage at the National Theatre until May 11. Tickets from £15. Call the box office on 020 7452 3000.

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