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SIXTY years ago, a teenage writer from Sal­ford took the world by storm with her de­but play, A Taste of Honey. She­lagh De­laney was Bri­tain’s first work­ing­class fe­male play­wright, and her play caused an im­me­di­ate sen­sa­tion with its un­flinch­ing de­pic­tion of class, sex­u­al­ity and race.

Open­ing on May 25, the Coliseum’s main stage trans­forms into a 1950s Sal­ford bed­sit for the theatre’s new pro­duc­tion of the ground-break­ing Greater Manch­ester drama.

Recog­nised as the pre-cur­sor to Corona­tion Street and one of Mor­risey’s lyri­cal in­spi­ra­tions, A Taste of Honey is a gritty play about a mother and daugh­ter trapped in a de­struc­tive and re­sent­ful love-hate re­la­tion­ship.

She­lagh De­laney wrote A Taste of Honey when she was just 18 years old, in 1958. The play pre­miered at Theatre Work­shop, Strat­ford East and trans­ferred to the West End the fol­low­ing year. In 1961 it was adapted into a clas­sic film star­ring Rita Tush­ing­ham and Dora Bryan.

A Taste of Honey was one of the finest ex­am­ples of the ‘kitchen sink drama’ born in the 1950s. The play was writ­ten when 70 per cent of women giv­ing birth had no pain re­lief, three years be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of the con­tra­cep­tive pill and nine years be­fore the le­gal­i­sa­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and abor­tion. The Coliseum’s pro­duc­tion of A Taste of Honey will be di­rected by the theatre’s as­so­ciate di­rec­tor, Chris Law­son, and fea­tures Gemma Dob­son – who made her pro­fes­sional stage de­but in Rita, Sue and Bob Too at the Royal Court, Lon­don ear­lier this year, as Jo; and Ker­rie Tay­lor, who is best known for her pre­vi­ous role as Beth En­right / Beres­ford in ITV’s Where The Heart Is, as He­len.

Old­ham Coliseum Theatre’s pro­duc­tion of A Taste of Honey is spon­sored by New Char­ter Homes. A Taste of Honey runs at the Coliseum from Fri­day, May 25 to Satur­day, June 9.

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