As has been widely reported, Sunday saw the sad death of Shelagh Delaney. Delaney exploded onto the scene at just nineteen years old when she sent her first attempt at a play, A Taste of Honey, to Joan Littlewood at the hugely influential Theatre Royal in Stratford.
Rough around the edges and raw in the middle, A Taste of Honey, was notable for offering not just a working-class but also a defiantly female perspective. At a time when the ‘Angry Young Men’ of British Theatre were setting their mark at the Royal Court; here was a play that shared their world but offered a vibrantly different viewpoint on post-war Britain.
Written in 1958 and considering the social mores of the time, it is almost inconceivable to think that A Taste of Honey contained sexual promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, interracial relationships and homosexuality. A critical hit and a counterpoint to the masculinity of Osborne, Arden and Pinter, A Taste of Honey secured Delaney’s reputation as a crucial figure in the development of female playwrights.
Below is a scene from the classic 1961 British adaptation (a welcome time when adapting a stage play wasn’t the same as clinically removing its very soul)
More on Shelagh Delaney by Michael Billington can be read here