With its themes of alcoholism, racism, homosexuality and survival set in poverty, A Taste Of Honey should have it all, but this production just doesn’t quite get there.
Written in 1958 by a 19 year old Shelagh Delaney, it was in its day a one of the groundbreaking English ‘kitchen sink’ dramas that went on to revolutionise British theatre and become a world wide hit.
Belvoir director Eamon Flack has not changed the setting but has removed the accents and grit from its North West English setting and has played it for laughs.
Taken individually, the two main roles of mother and daughter played respectively by Genevieve Lemon and Taylor Ferguson are well realised but together they lack connection and a grounding needed to give the production a heart.
Ferguson’s Jo, however, does shine in her moments with Thuso Lekwape as Jimmy, the black sailor who gets her pregnant and Tom Anson Mesker as Geoffrey, the gay art student who is her only true friend.
The production is moved along with powerful snippets of rock and roll and bossa nova which accompany Kate Champion’s brilliantly performed movements that precis relationship developments.
As the mother Helen’s wealthy lover Peter, Josh McConville, enters well but his potential for menace is diminished as the role descends into slapstick.
It’s not for a lack of talent that A Taste Of Honey is lacking, but a grounding in the reality that made Tony Richardson’s film version of the play so successful.
Until Aug 19. Belvoir Street Theatre, Upstairs, 18 & 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills. $37-$77+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.belvoir.com.au
Reviewed by John Moyle