Thursday 23 January 2020
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theguardian - 1 month ago

A Taste of Honey review – sweet songs and sour love

Trafalgar Studios, London
Jodie Prenger sings her heart out in an atmospheric revival of Shelagh Delaney’s classic play about an unlucky-in-love mother and daughterWords such as “raw” and “real” often crop up in descriptions of Shelagh Delaney’s vital play, first seen in 1958. They can seem a little patronising, as if the 19-year-old Delaney merely had a certain authenticity to offer. Bijan Sheibani’s jazz-infused touring production for the National Theatre, which is an entirely different beast from his 2014 staging at the NT, isn’t particularly interested in being “real” and is all the more interesting for it. With a live jazz band on stage (an approach borrowed from Joan Littlewood), Hildegard Bechtler’s moodily atmospheric set (50s Salford is suggested), and characters who are acutely aware of their audience, this is a play all about performance. Boy, does it sing.When we first see Jodie Prenger as Helen, she is leaning against a cigarette-strewn piano, singing about love. (The show spills over with 50s-inspired jazz songs, rearranged by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell.) Prenger has a rich brooding voice and, when she sings, she owns the stage. For a few precious moments she is absolutely in control. Continue reading...

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