A Taste of Honey: cultural context

A Taste of Honey: cultural context

‘A Taste of Honey’: Cultural Context

Playwright and Genre

  • A Taste of Honey was written by Shelagh Delaney in 1958 and is considered to be part of the ‘kitchen sink’ drama genre.
  • This genre was characterized by its focus on the domestic and working-class lives in post-war Britain, contrasting the often middle- or upper-class characters depicted in theatre at the time.
  • The play appealed to a growing post-war audience looking for real and relatable narratives.

Thematic Focus and Characters

  • ‘A Taste of Honey’ discusses social issues such as class, gender, race, and sexuality.
  • The play offers a perspective on the lives of a single mother, Helen, and her daughter, Jo, who navigate society together.
  • Various themes emerge through the characters, like racism which appears through the character of Jo’s African-American sailor boyfriend, Jimmy.
  • The play also tackles sexual orientation through the character of Geoffrey, Jo’s homosexual friend.

Setting and Social Context

  • The backdrop of post-war Britain is key in this play as a time of austerity and economic hardship, and is evident in the characters’ living conditions.
  • The industrial North, where the play is set, is crucial to the play’s context representing working-class life, industrial decline, and urban squalor.
  • The play’s setting and characters play a large role in setting the realist tone that focuses on the nature of relationships and personal experiences.

Interweaving Elements and Societal Norms

  • Delaney aimed to challenge societal norms of the time, bringing marginalised subjects to the forefront of theatre.
  • The themes, setting, and characters in ‘A Taste of Honey’ are interwoven to reflect the struggles, realities, and resilience of working-class people in post-war Britain.