A Taste of Honey: Prop design

A Taste of Honey: Prop design

Setting and Context

  • The play ‘A Taste of Honey’ by Shelagh Delaney, first performed in 1958, requires careful prop design to authentically portray the working-class British setting after World War II.
  • The play’s setting is a single-room flat in Salford, a poor, industrial region in Manchester. This setting should be suggested through minimal, shabby items to communicate the financial hardship faced by the characters.
  • Props must be period-accurate, representing the 1950s and early 1960s, from common household items to personal belongings like clothes, handbags, etc.
  • The use of limited lighting, few extravagant objects, and a dominance of dull colours could be employed to portray the bleakness and austerity of the characters’ lives.
  • The overall arrangement of the props should portray a cramped, cluttered living space, highlighting the characters’ struggle for personal space and independence.

Key Props for Character Realization

  • Key props in the play include a gas stove, a bed, a gramophone, a chair, a table and a sideboard. Often, these would be designed to appear well-worn, emphasizing the characters’ low socio-economic status.
  • The typewriter used by Jo is significant as it represents her aspiration to escape from her impoverished circumstances, and thus should be prominently featured.
  • Other important props include the sketchbook and charcoal pencils belonging to Jo. These illustrate her creative side and are symbolic of her individuality and imagination.
  • Helene’s alcohol bottles, such as whiskey or gin, are important props that underline the theme of addiction and self-destruction in the play.
  • Geoff’s books, preferably on topics related to art and philosophy, offer insight into his character and contrast with the simple, mundane life in the flat.

Props Impact on Plot and Theme

  • The prop changes between Act One and Act Two are significant — they reflect the passage of time and Jo’s changing circumstances. For instance, her sketchpad becomes more filled, and baby items and Geoff’s belongings appear in Act Two.
  • Props are extremely essential in contributing to the character development, building the narrative, and reinforcing the themes and symbols in ‘A Taste of Honey’. In the examination, the understanding of their symbolic function and how they help to amplify the broader social commentary of the play can be crucial to gain a higher grade.