Jennifer Evans and J. Evarts Star in Ghost & Spice’s Production of Shelagh Delaney’s “A Taste of Honey”

Chapel Hill, NC-based Ghost & Spice Productions will present A Taste of Honey, the first full-length play by British playwright and screenwriter Shelagh Delaney (1938-2011), on April 20 and 21 and 26-29 and May 3-5 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham. Delaney was just 18 years old in May 1958, when this controversial play rocked the British theater community, with its interracial romance and frank discussion of sexual matters.

In 1959, The Daily Telegraph (London) declared “A remarkable page of theater history has been written”; Kenneth Tynan of London Observer claimed: “Miss Delaney brings real people onto her stage …. [S]he is busy recording the wonder of life as she lives it.”

According to Ghost & Spice Productions:

“Heart-wrenching, passionate, dangerously and chillingly witty. It tells the story of a 17-year-old working class girl [Jennifer Evans as Jo] and her alcoholic mother [J. Evarts as Helen], trapped in poverty, deprived of ambition and vulnerable to manipulation. A Taste of Honey was part of the late 1950s, early 1960s genre revolutionizing British Theatre known as ‘Kitchen-Sink Theatre.’

“The cast of A Taste of Honey features company member Jennifer Evans and guest artists Loren Armitage, J. Evarts, Kashif Powell, and Hampton Rowe. Company member Jeffrey Alguire directs.

“With its ‘small but mighty’ approach to theater, Ghost & Spice Productions puts special emphasis on high standards of acting and directing while minimizing production costs. Its rich storytelling brings audiences varied, engaging, and affordable professional theater.”

Ghost & Spice Productions' cast for "A Taste of Honey" includes (from left) J. Evarts as Helen and Jennifer Evans as Jo (photo by Rachel Klem, courtesy Ghost & Spice Productions)
Ghost & Spice Productions' cast for "A Taste of Honey" includes (from left) J. Evarts as Helen and Jennifer Evans as Jo (photo by Rachel Klem, courtesy Ghost & Spice Productions)

The play’s publisher, Grove Press, adds:

“A sensational theatrical success in London [in 1959], A Taste of Honey was written by Shelagh Delaney at the age of 18. The play prompted Graham Greene to say that it had ‘all the freshness of Mr. Osborne’s Look Back In Anger and a greater maturity.’ A Taste of Honey won Miss Delaney two national awards, the sale of film rights productions at Stratford, London, and Paris, and a round of applause from the critics.

“The play is the story of a working-class, adolescent girl [Jennifer Evans as Jo] and her relationships with the Black sailor [Kashif Powell as The Boy] who makes her pregnant; the homosexual art student [Hampton Rowe as Geoffrey] who moves into her apartment to help her through her pregnancy; her fun-loving, saloon-frequenting mother [J. Evarts as Helen]; and Peter [Loren Armitage], her mother’s newly acquired husband. Jo moves, in a very detached way, within this economic and emotional whirlpool. Miss Delaney translates these emotionally charged situations into a non-sentimental and realistic play.

“… After leaving school at the age of 16, [Shelagh Delaney] tried her hand at various jobs, including work in an engineering factory.”

In reviewing the 1960 Broadway premiere of A Taste of Honey, Mollie Panter-Downes of The New Yorker called the drama “a remarkable play,” written by an “original exuberant writer with a wonderful ear for a theatrical line….”

Ghost & Spice Productions presents A TASTE OF HONEY at 8 p.m. April 20, 21, and 26-28, 2 p.m. April 29, and 8 p.m. May 3-5 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.

TICKETS: $16 ($14 students and seniors), except Half-Price Thursdays.

BOX OFFICE: 888-239-9253, rachel@cgtheatre.com, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/240704.

SHOW/PRESENTER: http://www.ghostandspice.com/.

SEASON: http://www.ghostandspice.com/#!__our-season.

VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.cgtheatre.com/directions.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Taste_of_Honey (Wikipedia).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelagh_Delaney (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).