A Taste of Honey: theatrical conventions of the period

A Taste of Honey: theatrical conventions of the period


  • A Taste of Honey, written by Shelagh Delaney, was a ground-breaking play that challenged many societal norms of its time, notably in terms of theatrical conventions.
  • The play, staged in the late 1950s, falls into the ‘kitchen sink’ drama genre. Kitchen sink dramas focused on the everyday lives of working-class individuals, a significant departure from more traditional theatrical themes.

Key Theatrical Conventions

  • An integral characteristic of theatrical conventions during this period was an emphasis on realism. A Taste of Honey is celebrated for its authentic dialogue and the credible portrayals of its characters on stage.
  • Similarly, realistic sets were also favoured during this period. The play is primarily set in the single, somewhat rundown, flat that the mother and daughter, Helen and Jo, share.

Symbolism and Implication

  • A Taste of Honey, along with other stage productions during that time, was innovative in its use of symbolism and implication rather than direct exposition. For instance, Helen’s various suitors symbolize her desperate search for financial and emotional stability.

Increasing Diversity in Theatre

  • The late 1950s ushers in an era of increased diversity in theatre. *A Taste of Honey was a prime example with characters who were working-class, female, black, and gay, a marked contrast from previous theatre eras.

Minimalism in Production Design

  • A Taste of Honey utilized minimalism in its production design, typical of the time period, while also enhancing the play’s gritty themes and stark dialogues.

Importance of Monologues

  • The monologues delivered within the play were a regular feature of theatrical conventions during that time period. These direct addresses to the audience allow characters to express their inner thoughts and emotions, reaffirming the difficulties they encounter in their lives.

Brechtian Elements

  • Notably, Brechtian elements are also evident in A Taste of Honey. The character of Geoffrey is often distanced from the action (just as Brecht advised) - this forces the audience to constantly question the societal norms of the time.

In all, the conventions associated with A Taste of Honey represent a significant break from tradition, thereby enhancing the play’s revolutionary and enduring appeal.