This show finished on Friday 22 March 2024, and this page is being kept for archival purposes only.

A Taste of Honey


Wednesday 20 March - Friday 22 March 2024


Bedlam Theatre


£4/6.5/8 + £1 booking fee on the door


Shelagh Delaney


“My usual self is a very unusual self, Geoffrey Ingram, and don’t you forget it!”

Manchester, 1958. The leaden Irwell flows through Salford as children play make believe in bomb sites. Makeshift families come together and fall apart, exploring new ways of living and loving in the rubble.

A Taste of Honey shows us how we can work to find authentic ways to love. We witness Jo, a pregnant teenager abandoned by her mother, imagine a world outside societal pressures, where her and her best friend Geof feel they can truly be themselves. A dark comedy, Delaney doesn’t shy away from spotlighting the work required to bring these spaces to life, and even if it does all come crashing down, we are left with a taste of the joy, however brief, they can bring.

Written when she was 19, Shelagh Delaney’s story is a gem of postwar British theatre. She also inspired the Smiths! Join us in celebrating her legacy - and see its relevance 65 years on.

Cast and Crew


Actor (Geof) Aaron de Verés

Actor (Helen) Elle Catherine Willcocks

Actor (Jas) Gorrav Bains

Actor (Jo) Megan Crutchley

Actor (Peter) Angus Morrison

Co-Director Cate Goldwater Breheny

Co-Director Marina Funcasta

Costume Manager Nhi Tran

Intimacy Director Rebecca Mahar

Producer Andrew More

Producer / Set Assistant Em Leites McPherson

Producer / Welfare Officer India Hunter

Set Designer Louis Handley

Set Designer Rosalyn Harper

Stage Manager Jack Read

Tech Director / Lighting Designer Kiran Mukherjee

Welfare Officer Leon Lee

A Taste of Honey -

Thursday 21 March - By Thom Dibdin for All Edinburgh Theatre

A pair of perfectly pitched performances ensure that the EUTC’s production of A Taste of Honey at the Bedlam, to Friday, provides a more than creditable account of Shelagh Delaney’s script.

Set in the slums of Salford in Manchester in the late Fifties when National Service was still in place, Delaney explores the fraught relationship of teenage Jo with her alcoholic mother, Helen, when they move – again – into a run-down flat overlooking the river and the local slaughterhouse.

Directors Cate Goldwater Breheny and Marina Funcasta establish the core elements of the play as taking place in the time of their writing; but allow modern elements to slip into the periphery.

At that core, Megan Crutchley as the young, naive Jo and Ellie Willcocks as hard as nails Helen, create a quite magnificent dynamic.

Crutchley’s Jo is understated and diffident; controlled by her mother but echoing back her vocal tricks and ferocity of language. As the play progresses, she is clearly on the cusp of turning into her own version of Helen. Crutchley has a thrawn vulnerability about her, unable to take advice even if it will help her.

Willcocks plays Helen at no little pace, creating quite the monster she should be. Scary and self-obsessed, she clearly regards Jo as an impediment. She treats her like her skivvy, although she is happy to use Jo as weapon in her verbal sparing with her young lover Peter, and a retreat in times of duress.


The men in their lives are not quite so deeply drawn. Gorrav Bains makes the most of the role of Jas, the black sailor who hangs out with Jo in the park. He brings the necessary clarity to his performance as Jas proposes to Jo on a whim and spends Christmas in the flat when Helen abandons it with Peter.

It’s easy to see what Angus Morrison’s intent is, in the role of Peter. A drunk, lecherous, posh, spiv, who sets Helen up for marriage and is surprised at Jo’s existence when he visits. But Morrison starts the whole piece on too fraught a note to really take the character anywhere interesting.

His one scene which really works finds him chatting-up Jo while Helen is getting ready for their wedding. There is a sense of the snake about him, unable to contain himself in his attempts to charm Jo. However Morrison is not a convincing drunk, nor does he find the sense of malice that the role carries.

Doomy failure

Pregnant and abandoned by her mother and her lover, Jo’s possibility of redemption comes in the second half and the form of her friend and art-school student Geoff. Aaron de Verés gives him the necessary sense of inept and doomy failure. Fatally compromised by his queerness, de Verés gives a good telling of Geoff’s his half-hearted attempts to stand up to Peter and Helen on his and Jo’s behalf.

Louis Handley and Rosalyn Harper’s set design frames the piece perfectly. It leaves space for The Tramsurfers trio – with MD Adam Ryan on cajon, Luke Noonan on bass guitar and Robert Philips on guitar – to the rear of the playing area.

Besides providing the interlude music, the trio create ambience and are, on occasion, used by Helen in the rhetorical flourishes of her arguments. However, there are times when the music, is just a bit too much and gets in the way of the storytelling.

Breheny and Funcasta’s staging is interesting but only works up to a point. Having drawn such immense central performances, it is disappointing that their direction too often allows Crutchley to indicate Jo’s diffidence by mumbling into the furniture. Having Morrison start at such a high pitch is also a serious detraction.


The idea of having modern cultural references is slightly tricky, too, although they certainly work as signifiers. Jo and Geoff returning to the flat with a helium balloon; music choices that include Helen singing lines from David Bowie’s Modern Love and The Nolans’ I’m in The Mood for Dancing; and Peter buying Jo a large box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates all add resonance.

However, there is always the danger that such elements detract from the drama itself and leave you wondering whether, like Jo and Geoff’s use of Blu Tack a good decade before its invention, it is intentional or an anachronistic oversight.

There is not doubt, however, that the central pairing of Crutchley and Willcocks successfully frames all the anguish and despair of Jo and Hellen. Here is tragedy set to repeat itself down the generations, even to our own, and with no sign of stopping now.

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