Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 928
A Taste of Honey opens in a large, comfortless flat in an apartment house in a very poor district of Manchester. The first scene introduces Helen and her daughter Josephine (Jo), who are moving in with their baggage. Through the half-humorous, half-spiteful banter between them it becomes clear that Helen, who drinks whiskey throughout, resents Jo because she interferes with her good-time life-style and that Jo is counting the days until she can leave school and gain independence from her neglectful, promiscuous mother. Helen’s current boyfriend, Peter, a brash car salesman several years younger than she is, arrives and meets Jo for the first time. They hate each other on sight and exchange pithy insults.
In scene 2, Jo is flirting in the street below the flat with her boyfriend, a black sailor referred to throughout as The Boy. He promises to marry her when he returns on leave in six months’ time and gives her a cheap ring. Jo teases him about his color and wonders how Helen will react. The scene shifts back to the flat. Helen tells Jo, who has a bad cold, that she is going to marry Peter. When Peter arrives, with chocolates for Jo and flowers for Helen, Jo warns him to leave her and her mother alone.
Helen, who has been offstage in the kitchen, returns to tell Jo that they have found a house to move into after the wedding and that they are now going off for a weekend holiday. She gives Jo one pound, borrowed from Peter, and tells her there is plenty of food in the kitchen. “You should prepare my meals like a proper mother,” says Jo. Helen answers that she has never pretended to be a “proper” mother. She leaves with Peter, and Jo flings herself on the bed, crying. The Boy comes in; he comforts her and warms some milk to ease her cold. They tease each other affectionately and begin to make love.
The scene changes to a confrontation between Helen and Jo. Helen, who is still drinking heavily, notices the ring and urges Jo not to waste her life on marriage, but to have fun first. Jo, seizing her last chance to find out something about her real father, asks Helen about him and is deeply disturbed when Helen tells her that he was “a bit stupid, you know . . . just a bit—retarded.” It was a “little love affair that lasted five minutes,” she says. Jo wonders if her father was mad and whether she could inherit his condition. Helen answers vaguely and Jo, pretending not to care, wishes her good luck.
Act 2 deals with Jo’s pregnancy and her relationship with Geoffrey (Geof), a homosexual art student who is sharing the flat with her and who looks after her “like a big sister.” The mood between them fluctuates from adolescent grumbling to childlike high spirits. At one point they exaltedly chant nursery rhymes at each other. Jo talks about The Boy, weaving a fantasy about him as “a Prince from darkest Africa.”
Two months later Geof, who has been cutting out a baby’s gown, shares Jo’s excitement when she feels the baby’s first stirrings. Afterward she becomes self-pitying and declares that she hates motherhood. Jo asks Geof if he would like to be a father. Geof quietly says “yes,” tries to kiss her, and proposes marriage. Jo is distressed; she wants friendship, not sex. She is further distressed when Helen arrives and she learns that Geof had sent for her. “What do you think you’re running,” she asks him. “A ‘Back...
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to Mother’ movement?”
A savage quarrel between Jo and Helen nearly leads to blows, but Geof intervenes. Peter arrives, very drunk, abuses Geof, swears at Helen and insults Jo. Helen realizes that she must choose between him and Jo; she offers to stay, but Jo rebuffs her. She goes off with Peter.
In the next scene, it is nearly time for the baby’s birth. Jo is frightened about the future and asks Geof to hold her hand. They banter affectionately, and Jo blurts out her fear that she has inherited her father’s madness. Geof comforts her and gently teases her for letting this prey on her mind, telling her it was probably a figment of Helen’s imagination.
He gives her a life-sized doll for motherhood practice, but she throws it on the floor, declaring that it is the wrong color. Geof offers to go and look for The Boy, but Jo knows that the affair is over—it belongs to her fantasy world.
Just as they are becoming very warm and close, Helen returns, loaded with baggage; Peter has left her and she is clearly back for good. She takes charge of everything, cleans the flat although she knows Geof has just done it, and brings out lots of new baby clothes, which Jo refuses to look at. While Jo is offstage, Helen orders Geof to leave. Sadly, he decides that there is no room for both of them and that he must be the one to go.
Alone with Helen, who seems to have become a “proper” mother, Jo feels soothed. When Helen learns that the baby might be black, however, she is outraged, and Jo tells her that if she does not like it she can leave. Helen goes out for a drink, but she will be back. Jo, alone on the stage, although missing Geof badly, smiles a little to herself, and sings a nursery rhyme to cherish his memory.
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 240
The structure of A Taste of Honey is circular; it begins and ends with mother and daughter locked together in a relationship that satisfies neither. In between, the episodic form gives the effect of a series of vaudeville sketches. The dialogue indeed has the snappy give-and-take of the music-hall, but although funny on the surface, underneath it is raw with pain.
Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop, which first presented the play, set the style for its production: a cross between naturalistic comedy and stylized melodrama. Scene changes and progress of time are marked by lighting fade-outs and fade-ins. The setting is quite simple. The players dance onto the stage, often carrying their own props, and dance off according to their moods, accompanied by music from an onstage jazz trio. The trio also accompanies the snatches of song which crop up from time to time.
The players sometimes address their remarks directly to the audience. When Helen, in the first scene, sings a song, she talks to the musicians, and critics have noted the strong impact when, in the final scene, she turns to the audience and asks, “What would you do?” At the very end, when Jo leans against the doorpost to sing a nursery rhyme, she sings directly to the audience, reminding them, as well as herself, of the taste of honey she enjoyed with Geof—a memory that will have to carry her through the difficult time ahead.
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 605
Through a series of loosely related episodes, A Taste of Honey follows its teenage, working-class protagonist through the process of her entry into womanhood. As the play begins, Jo and her mother, Helen, have just moved into their latest dwelling, a dingy hole in a lower-class neighborhood that leaves Jo suitably unimpressed. Moving from place to place is an old story for these two, but it seems to Jo that they are moving down in the world and from a position that was hardly exalted. Helen refuses to be discouraged; the place will do, if only because it has to do. The arrival of Peter terminates the tentative stability of Jo and Helen’s arrangement. An old friend of Helen, he wants to renew their relationship. When he proposes marriage, Helen shows an interest that catches her daughter’s sometimes-caustic attention.
Responding both to her desires as a young woman and to her mother’s apparent indifference, Jo becomes involved with a young black seaman. She fantasizes that he is an African prince; in fact, he is from Cardiff, Wales. Wherever he is from, Jo finds him impossible to resist, even though she probably at least half realizes that the ring he gives her does not commit him to any permanent relationship. He must return to his ship, and Helen’s impending marriage to Peter means that Jo will be alone. Before leaving, Helen tells Jo, whether truthfully or not, that Jo’s father was a retarded man with whom Helen had an affair shortly after her marriage to her puritanical first husband.
At the beginning of the second act, Jo is visibly pregnant. Her young man is nowhere in evidence, and Jo, although she still alludes to the fantasy that he is an African prince, wastes little time in regretting his departure. She has been befriended by Geoffrey, a gay art student. Fortuitously, he is looking for a place to stay. In offering him the use of the couch, Jo assures herself of a nurturing companion in what could otherwise have been a bitterly lonely time. Noticing some sketches Jo has done, Geof acknowledges her undeveloped talent. The talent is likely to remain undeveloped, since setting a goal and working toward it are not congenial to Jo’s temperament. She is no planner, whether the issue is art or motherhood.
Geof’s concern for Jo leads him to go surreptitiously in search of Helen. Jo does not want her mother to play any role in this part of her life, and she is a bit angry with Geof for his interference. She dismisses Helen’s suggestion that Jo might come and live with her and Peter, and it turns out that Peter is unwilling to have Jo and her baby anyway. Impatiently, he tells Helen to come along with him. Jo is not surprised that Helen does what Peter says.
Yet Helen has not gone for good. When she turns up again, it is because Peter has moved on to another woman. Helen now asserts her prerogatives as mother. She, not Geof, will look after Jo; in fact, Geof had better move out entirely. Neither Jo nor Geof can resist Helen’s force. Now alone with Helen, Jo tells her mother that the baby will be black. Helen’s first reaction is to say that in that case she will drown it, but as she leaves for the drink she decides she needs, she offers another idea. Perhaps they can put the child on the stage and call it Blackbird. Alone at the final curtain, Jo sings a song that Geof has taught her.
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 357
*Salford. Town adjacent to Manchester in the industrial Midlands district of England that is the setting for the play and the place in which playwright Shelagh Delaney was born and grew up. The location is identified in a prefatory page of the published text; however, the play’s opening stage directions place its location “in Manchester.” Having been the center of England’s textile industry since the fourteenth century, Manchester is also the country’s most densely populated area, though not its largest city. Containing many Port of Manchester docks, Salford became part of the new metropolitan county of Greater Manchester in 1974. Factories dominate the urban landscape, and its population is predominantly working class.
Helen and Jo’s flat
Helen and Jo’s flat. Described in Delaney’s stage directions as “comfortless,” the semifurnished apartment that Helen, an alcoholic “semi-whore,” has rented for herself and her teenage daughter, Jo, is the latest in a series of such rooms that they have occupied, each cheaper and tawdrier than the one before. It has only one bed, and Helen acknowledges that “everything in it’s falling apart . . . and we’ve no heating—but there’s a lovely view of the gasworks, we share a bathroom with the community and this wallpaper’s contemporary.” The stage set also includes a portion of the street outside the apartment building, where Jo’s boyfriend, “a coloured naval rating,” proposes marriage to her.
Jo notes that fifty thousand people live in tenements near the cemetery and a slaughterhouse. Scenes of such urban squalor had rarely been depicted realistically on the English stage before this play. They were in stark contrast to the middle-and upper-class elegance of then-popular plays by Noel Coward and others. This flat is considerably worse than the apartment in John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, another working-class drama that premiered in 1956 and was also set in the English Midlands. Like the readers of Émile Zola’s novels more than six decades earlier, London theatergoers were shocked but also intrigued by the urban naturalism of Delaney’s setting, her lower-class characters, and the grim events that transpire among them.
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 315
At the time of the first production of A Taste of Honey, the talk of the English theater was of the work of the “Angry Young Men,” who were rejecting the genteel conventions of the English stage in favor of a new directness of emotion and of social and political protest. In this context, it was Shelagh Delaney’s considerable accomplishment to shift the focus of attention to women. Delaney not only situates the mother-daughter bond at the center of the play but also examines that bond with an honesty and an absence of moralism that remain impressive. Moreover, she allows the women to control the action. Although not goal-oriented in the manner of the conventional male hero, they are the active forces in the play.
The playwright was not the only creative artist involved in the evolution of A Taste of Honey as a theater work. The play’s original director, Joan Littlewood, as founder of the Theatre Workshop, was a major figure in the advanced British theater at the time. She made a number of significant contributions, including the characters’ direct addresses to the audience (sometimes called “breaking the fourth wall”), that complicate the play’s realism without violating it. Littlewood’s importance in the theater may be equal to that of any British playwright of her generation, and A Taste of Honey takes on added importance as a collaboration of women in the theater.
The success of her first play created for its remarkably young playwright great expectations that were not fulfilled in the years that followed. A Taste of Honey remained its author’s one theatrical success. Yet in defining new possibilities for women in theater, A Taste of Honey constitutes at least a significant forerunner to a woman’s theater. Jo and Helen must be numbered among the great roles for women in the English theater of the twentieth century.
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 649
England in the mid- to late-1950s was still feeling the effects of World War II. The bombing of London— the ‘‘Blitz’’ as it was often called—began September 7, 1940, and continued throughout the war. Children were sent out into the countryside for safety, and women in their twenties became eligible for the draft. Rationing of food, fuel, and other essentials needed for the war was common place. By 1944, Germany’s secret weapon, the V2 ballistic missile began targeting London, intensifying the damage from years of earlier bombing. When the war ended, American soldiers returned home to a country that had suffered little damage within its borders.
Britain, on the other hand, had suffered greatly during the war and rebuilding would take a very long time. Rationing continued long after the end of the war. People needed homes as well as buildings in which to work and pray and, once again, enjoy life. The rebuilding of Britain’s less tangible assets would take a long time, also. The war had intensi- fied feelings about loyalty and betrayal, innocence and corruption, commitment and abandonment. The results of the Blitz and the images of the Holocaust had horrified Britains, but their endurance and survival had also strengthened the British resolve to reclaim their lifestyle.
In America, the suffering brought about by the Great Depression and World War II ended in the Postwar boom of the 1950s. With the exception of minorities, notably black Americans, the 1950s were economically successful. But this was not the case in England, where huge numbers of the population were on relief, the British government’s form of welfare. There was great despair over the future and society seemed brutal and mechanistic. This was especially true of the country’s industrial heartland. One response to this feeling of despair was evident in the literature of the late-1950s. A group of young writers from this period were labeled ‘‘Angry Young Men’’ because their writings were filled with protest, bitterness, and anger at the social values that still prevailed in Britain.
Authors such as John Osborne, Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim ), Alan Sillitoe (Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner ), and John Braine (Room at the Top ) created the antihero as the protagonist of their works. These antiheroes were young people who could see that the upper classes had no desire to share the wealth or a willingness to help the lower classes achieve success. Osborne, and writers like him, viewed the upper classes and the institutions they had established with disdain. Delaney was hailed as a member of this group when A Taste of Honey was produced, although she was less concerned with social change than in creating realistic characters.
For the first time, the working class was finding a voice in England’s literary works. These writers were not hailing from Britain’s upper classes or from the genteel South. This new breed of writer understood the working class and asked ‘‘what is real?’’ Their response was that for the majority of Britains, poverty, dead-end jobs, and basic survival were ‘‘real.’’ While life for the upper classes quickly returned to normal in the Postwar years, life for the workers did not improve; England, as a victorious nation, should have prospered across its classes, yet only a small minority were benefitting during this period.
English laborers could look to America and see that the middle class were prospering, pursuing the ‘‘American Dream.’’ Jobs were plentiful and wages were increasing. Workers were buying automobiles and homes and the furniture to fill them. But in England, there was little hope for the future unless the working class could find a voice. The dramas and novels of protest advocating social changes offered working class Britains a voice. Despite Delaney’s protestations that she was not a member of the Angry Theatre, her play nonetheless raised awareness of the plight of the lower classes.
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 670
Angry Young Men ‘‘Angry Young Men’’ was the label given to a group of British writers—notably playwright John Osborne—of the late-1950s, whose work expressed bitterness and disillusionment with Postwar English society. A common feature of their work is the antihero, a flawed, often abrasive character who rebels against a corrupt social order and strives for personal integrity. Delaney did not set out to become a part of this group, but when her play was produced, many critics saw her work as a protest against working class poverty and the hopelessness of a social system that confined people by status or class.
There are elements of the ‘‘Angry Theatre’’ in Delaney’s play, notably its working class setting. But her characters are ultimately unmotivated. There is no sense that either Jo, Helen, or even Geof has an agenda to change the world, to correct the injustices of their existence. Unlike Jimmy Porter in Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, Delaney’s characters let life pass them by without attempting change, without lashing out, rebelling at their unfavorable situations. As Delaney frequently stated, however, her intention was to illuminate the working class in her play, to strive for realism. She was not angling for inclusion in the Angry Theatre.
Audience The people for whom a drama is performed. Authors usually write with an audience in mind; however, Delaney is said to have written for actors, whom she felt were being given little enough to do in contemporary productions. One interesting aspect of A Taste of Honey is that Delaney frequently has her characters address the audience directly. In this sense she enables the actors to more fully realize their characterizations—engage in a kind of faux dialogue with ‘‘real’’ people (the audience). The technique also allowed the original audiences, many of whom had little contact with the social strata depicted in the play, a closer interaction with the working class.
Character A person in a dramatic work. The actions of each character are what constitute the story. Character can also include the idea of a particular individual’s morality. Characters can range from simple stereotypical figures to more complex multi-faceted ones. Characters may also be defined by personality traits, such as the rogue or the damsel in distress. ‘‘Characterization’’ is the process of creating a lifelike person from an author’s imagination. To accomplish this the author provides the character with personality traits that help define who he will be and how he will behave in a given situation.
Genre Genres are a way of categorizing literature. Genre is a French term that means ‘‘kind’’ or ‘‘type.’’ Genre can refer to both the category of literature such as tragedy, comedy, epic, poetry, or pastoral. It can also include modern forms of literature such as drama novels or short stories. This term can also refer to types of literature such as mystery, science fiction, comedy, or romance. A Taste of Honey is generally classified as a realist, modern drama.
Plot This term refers to the pattern of events. Generally plots should have a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion, but they may also sometimes be a series of episodes that are thematically linked (a technique frequently employed by German playwright Bertolt Brecht). Basically, the plot provides the author with the means to explore primary themes. The plot of A Taste of Honey is how Jo comes learns to live with her mother’s abandonment, while finding the strength to survive. The theme of the play is the nature of the mother/daughter relationship.
Setting The time, place, and culture in which the action of the play takes place is called the setting. The elements of setting may include geographic location, physical or mental environments, prevailing cultural attitudes, or the historical time in which the action takes place. The setting for A Taste of Honey is a run-down flat in a poor neighborhood. The action occurs over a nine to ten month period, roughly the gestation period for Jo’s child.
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1958: An English Roman Catholic economist, Colin Clark, condemns birth control. Clark argues that although population growth places difficult demands on agrarian societies, it also provokes greater efforts in the fields of industry, commerce, political leadership, and science.
Today: Birth control continues to be a politically charged issue, with murders, bombings, and increasing violence emerging as an increasingly frequent image in protests against abortion.
1958: Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is the longest running play in British history, with over 2000 performances. Terrance Rattigan’s Variations on a Theme, which opened on May 8, is credited as the play whose lack of content inspired Delaney to write A Taste of Honey.
Today: Both Mousetrap and A Taste of Honey continue to be produced in regional theatre, but Variations on a Theme has achieved no lasting notoriety.
1958: The Clean Air Act, passed in 1956, goes into effect. It represents Britain’s efforts to cut down on deaths in London and in England’s industrial cities, where many deaths are thought to be caused by the polluted air from factories and coal-burning furnaces.
Today: Automobiles still cause pollution, but contamination from the burning of coal is significantly diminished. Britain continues its cleaning of public buildings, which for many years have been covered in the black soot left by burning coal.
1958: For the first time, the British government allows women to sit in the House of Lords.
Today: With a woman, Margaret Thatcher, having served several years as Prime Minister, women in Britain’s Parliament are no longer considered novel or unusual.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 45
A Taste of Honey was adapted as a film in 1961, earning popular success and a number of critical awards. The film stars Rita Tushingham, Robert Stephens, Dora Bryan, Murray Melvin, and Paul Danquah. The director was Tony Richardson, who also adapted the screenplay with Delaney.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 424
Sources Aston, Frank. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York World Telegram, October 5, 1960.
Barnes, Clive. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York Post, May 6, 1981.
Beaufort, John. Review of A Taste of Honey in the Christian Science Monitor, May 6, 1981.
Boles, William. ‘‘‘Have I Ever Laid Claims to Being a Proper Mother?’ The Stigma of Maternity in Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey’’ in Text and Presentation, Vol. 17, 1996, pp. 1-5.
Chapman, John. Review of A Taste of Honey in the Daily News, October 5, 1960.
Coleman, Robert. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York Mirror, October 5, 1960.
Kalem, T. E. Review of A Taste of Honey in Time, July 6, 1982.
Kerr, Walter. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York Herald Tribune, October 5, 1960.
Kroll, Jack. Review of A Taste of Honey in Newsweek, July 20, 1981.
McClain, John. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York Journal American, October 5, 1960.
Rich, Frank. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York Times, April 29, 1981.
Taubman, Howard. ‘‘Theatre without Illusion’’ in the New York Times, October 5, 1960.
Taylor, John Russell. ‘‘Way Down East: Shelagh Delaney’’ in The Angry Theatre: New British Drama, revised edition, Hill and Wang, 1969, pp. 117-40.
Watt, Douglas. Review of A Taste of Honey in the Daily News, April 29, 1981.
Watts Jr., Richard. Review of A Taste of Honey in the New York Post, October 5, 1960.
Whitehead, Susan. ‘‘Shelagh Delaney’’ in Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Vol. 7: Writers after World War II, 1945-1960, Gale, 1991.
Further Reading Campbell, Louise. Coventry Cathedral: Art and Architecture in Postwar Britain, Clarendon Press, 1996. While this book focuses on only one building, its construction represents many of the important Postwar ideas and forces found in architectural building in the 1950s and 1960s in England and Europe.
Ellis, Peter Berresford. A History of the Irish Working Class, by Pluto Press, 1996. This book provides an examination of the how the working class in Ireland has been shaped by economic, political, and social factors.
Jones, Gareth Stedman Language of Class, Cambridge University Press, 1984. This book is a collection of essays by a British social historian that discusses the nature of class consciousness and central issues of Britain’s working class.
Taylor, John Russell. The Angry Theatre: New British Drama, Hill and Wang, 1969. This book provides biographies of playwrights and a discussion of their individual works.
Throop, Elizabeth A. Net Curtains and Closed doors: Intimacy, Family, and Public Life in Dublin, Bergin & Garvey, 1999. This book focuses on the family life and the influences of religion, society, English Colonialism.
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 632
Brockett, Oscar G., and Robert R. Findley. “Absurdity and Anger.” In A Century of Innovation: A History of American Theatre and Drama Since 1870. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1973. A clear and concise analysis of the work of Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop provides an often-illuminating context for a consideration of A Taste of Honey.
De Jongh, Nicholas. “Out of Bondage Towards Being.” In Not in Front of the Audience: Homosexuality on Stage. London: Routledge, 1992. Examining A Taste of Honey in the light of gay and lesbian studies, de Jongh finds in Geof a recognition of the full humanity of the homosexual character unusual for its time. However tentatively, the play marks the beginnings of a revolt against conventional relationships and in favor of personal liberation.
Esche, Edward J. “Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey as Serious Text.” In The Death of the Playwright? Modern British Drama and Literary Theory, edited by Adrian Page. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Discusses the play as modern tragedy, not as an uplifting piece for high school students. Relies on a particular stage production for some of his interpretation.
Jellicoe, Ann. “Motherhood and Masculinity.” In Look Back in Gender: Sexuality and the Family in Post-War British Drama, edited by Michelene Wandor. London: Methuen, 1987. Examining A Taste of Honey from a feminist perspective that would not have been available to Delaney in 1958, Jellicoe finds that while the play violates a number of taboos, the old values still rule. Nevertheless, especially in its treatment of relationships between women, the play marks a significant departure from the established conventions of the British theater as it existed at the time.
Keyssar, Helene. Feminist Theatre: An Introduction to Plays of Contemporary British and American Women. New York: Grove Press, 1985. Discusses the importance of Joan Littlewood in Britain and of women’s theatrical collectives in nurturing women playwrights; stresses continuities of feminist themes.
Taylor, John Russell. The Angry Theatre: New British Drama. New York: Hill and Wang, 1962. Places Delaney’s work in the context of the theatrical revolution following Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. Offers an especially interesting comparison of Delaney’s original script with the workshop version produced by Joan Littlewood that formed the basis of the printed text.
Taylor, Lib. “Early Stages: Women Dramatists 1958-68.” In British and Irish Women Dramatists Since 1958, edited by Trevor R. Griffiths and Margaret Llewellyn-Jones. Buckingham, England: Open University Press, 1993. Considers Celtic (Irish, Scottish, and Welsh) aspects of British theater. Argues that British and Irish dramatists might have written differently had their work followed, not preceded, the women’s movement.
Tynan, Kenneth. “Joan Littlewood.” In Tynan Right and Left: Plays, Films, People, Places, and Events. New York: Atheneum, 1968. A portrait sketch of the director of the original production of the play by a critic who was closely in touch with what was most exciting in British theater at the time.
Tynan, Kenneth. Review of A Taste of Honey. In Curtains: Selections from the Drama Criticism and Selected Writings. New York: Atheneum, 1961. One of the important reviews of the first British production, by the most influential British drama critic of the period. While Tynan finds crudities in the play, he also detects the smell of life.
Wandor, Michelene. Look Back in Gender: Sexuality and the Family in Postwar British Drama. London: Methuen, 1987. Covers the same ground as Taylor but emphasizes gender roles from a feminist slant. The author is a playwright and director.
Wellwarth, George E. “Shelagh Delaney: The Drama of Alienated Youth.” In The Theater of Protest and Paradox: Developments in the Avant-Garde Drama. Rev. ed. New York: New York University Press, 1971. Like many of the important plays of its period, A Taste of Honey presents loneliness as the human condition. Wellwarth praises Delaney’s dialogue but finds her plotting weak.