The National Theatre has announced the full cast for the UK tour of Bijan Sheibani’s production of A Taste of Honey, Shelagh Delaney’s remarkable taboo-breaking 1950s play, which was first produced in the Lyttelton Theatre in 2014, designed by Hildegard Bechtler, reconceived in an exciting new production featuring a live on stage band.
Joining the previously announced Jodie Prenger (Oliver!, Shirley Valentine, Abigail’s Party UK tour), who leads the cast as Helen, will be Gemma Dobson as Jo, Durone Stokes as Jimmie, Stuart Thompson as Geoffrey, and Tom Varey as Peter. They are joined by understudies Liam Bessell, Katy Clayton, Claire Eden, and Marcel White.
Written by Shelagh Delaney when she was nineteen, A Taste of Honey offers an explosive celebration of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the female spirit in a deprived and restless world.
When her mother Helen runs off with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with Jimmy, a sailor who promises to marry her, before he heads for the seas leaving her pregnant and alone. Art student Geoff moves in and assumes the role of surrogate parent until, misguidedly, he sends for Helen and their unconventional setup unravels.
An exhilarating depiction of working-class life in post-war Salford comes to Richmond Theatre on 7 –12 October 2019.
The lighting designer will be Paul Anderson, the movement director will be Aline David, the composer and musical arranger will be Benjamin Kwasi Burrell. The sound designer will be Ian Dickinson for Autograph, and Company Voice Work will be by Joel Trill.
Shelagh Delaney wrote her first play, A Taste of Honey in ten days after seeing Rattigan’s Variation of a Theme in Manchester. She sent the script to Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and the play opened at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1958 before transferring to the West End. It was later made into a feature film with Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan and Murray Melvin and the Broadway transfer featured Joan Plowright and Angela Lansbury. Delaney's other work includes The Lion in Love. For television she wrote The House That Jack Built and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Bijan Sheibani is an award winning theatre and opera director. His work for the National Theatre includes Barber Shop Chronicles, A Taste of Honey, Emil and the Detectives, The Kitchen, and Our Class (Olivier Nomination for Best Director). Other theatre includes Dance Nation and The House of Bernarda Alba (Almeida Theatre); Circle Mirror Transformation (Home, Manchester); The Brothers Size (Young Vic, Olivier Nomination); Giving (Hampstead Theatre); Moonlight (Donmar Warehouse); Gone Too Far (Royal Court Theatre, Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre). He was artistic director of Actors Touring Company from 2007 to 2010, and an associate director at the National Theatre from 2010 to 2015.
Hildegard Bechtler is an Olivier Award-winning theatre and opera designer whose designs for the NT include Consent, Sunset at the Villa Thalia, Waste, A Taste of Honey, Scenes from an Execution, After the Dance, Harper Regan, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, The Hothouse, Thérèse Raquin, Exiles, Primo, Iphigenia at Aulis, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, and King Lear. For the RSC she has designed The Crucible and Electra. In London's West End her designs include Oresteia (also Almeida Theatre), Top Hat, Passion Play, Old Times, The Sunshine Boys, Arcadia, The Lady from Dubuque, By the Bog of Cats, The Master Builder, Footfalls, Hedda Gabler, The Misanthrope, The Goat or Who is Sylvia?, The Crucible. On Broadway she has designed Primo, Arcadia, and The Seagull.
Gemma Dobson’s work in theatre includes Rita, Sue and Bob Too for Out of Joint at the Royal Court and on tour, and Plenty at Chichester Festival Theatre. Television includes In The Club, Brief Encounters and Care.
Jodie Prenger’s work for the NT includes One Man, Two Guvnors for the NT in the West End; Nancy in Oliver! (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane); Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre and UK Tour); Calamity Jane in Calamity Jane (UK Tour); Tell Me on a Sunday (UK Tour); Miss Hannigan in Annie (New Theatre, Oxford); Shirley in Shirley Valentine (UK Tour); Kelly in Fat Friends The Musical (UK Tour) and Beverly in Abigail’s Party (UK tour). Television includes Years and Years, Citizen Khan, Wizards vs Aliens, Candy Cabs and Waterloo Road. She won the Theatregoers' Choice Whats On Stage Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.
Durone Stokes’ theatre credits include Dream Girls in the West End and Grand Hotel at Southwark Playhouse.
Stuart Thompson trained at LAMDA and A Taste of Honey will be his professional stage debut.
Tom Varey’s theatre credits include Deathwatch at the Print Room, One Arm at Southwark Playhouse and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Liverpool Everyman. Television includes No Offence, Ackley Bridge, Game of Thrones, Dark Angel and The Village. Film includes Pond Life.
Liam Bessell’s theatre credits include The Life and Opinions of Mary Read for Queynte Ladies, and Skellig for Playbox Theatre Company.
Katy Clayton’s theatre credits include The Band on tour and West End. Television includes Little Crackers, Shameless, Holby City, Waterloo Road, The Good Samaritan, Where the Heart Is, The Street and Coronation Street. Film includes Me, Myself & Di, Chicken Tikka Masala and Re-Inventing Eddie.
Claire Eden’s theatre credits include The Band on tour and West End, Waiting for Gaga for Slung Low, Muddy Cows at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Mexican Proverbs at Bradford Playhouse, Teechers (also on UK tour), Shakers and Say It With Flowers at Hull Truck Theatre. Television includes Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Candy Cabs, All In The Family, and DCI Banks.
Marcel White’s theatre credits include Freeman and Green Leaves Fall for Strictly Arts Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Legacy: The Story of Martin Luther, The Soul in the Machine, Darkness Falls, and Stand for It for Saltmine Theatre Company.
For more information, please visit https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk
Monday 7 October – Saturday 12 October 2019
Monday – Saturday: 7:30pm
Wednesday and Saturday: 2:30pm
Tickets from: £13.90*
Richmond Box Office: 0844 871 7651* Website: atgtickets.com/Richmond*
*Fees apply. Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.