Lytham’s Charlotte Dawson has made no secret of her ambitions to become a successful actress.
This was a real test, her first lead role in a serious play. And if that wasn’t enough it was in a tiny theatre, above a pub, where the audience were barely a foot or two away.
It would be testing for even the most experienced of actors and it says much about Dawson, and her talent, that she pulled it off.
A Taste of Honey isn’t an easy play either. Written in 1958 by Shelagh Delaney (who, rather remarkably, wrote it in 10 days at the age of 18 after watching a production at the Manchester Opera House and thinking she could do better), it is a gritty and realistic story of a reluctant teenage mother-to-be (Jo, played by Dawson). The play puts into question, class, race, gender and sexual orientation in mid-20th century Britain. It became known as a ‘kitchen sink’ play, part of a genre that revolutionised theatre at the time.
Amazingly this is the first time it has been performed in Delaney’s hometown of Salford - and Dawson is the reason it was. Delaney died last year but her daughter (who now controls the Delaney estate) gave permission for this production to go ahead because her mum was a huge fan of Les Dawson.
So to the play. Charlotte gave a solid and impressive performance, and was particularly good in the exchanges between her and Helen (her crude and sexually indiscriminate mother, played excellently here by Yvonne Patterson), and with Geoffrey (a homosexual friend, who assumes the role of surrogate father - played by Jaiden Michael).
It was well received by the audience, which included Lancashire playwright Jim Cartwright (best known for his play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, later made into a successful film). Cartwright, who knows a thing or two about acting, told me he’d been impressed by Charlotte. “She’s definitely got something special,” he said. “I thought she gave a spirited, funny and touching performance in what is a difficult role.”
There are plans to bring this production to Blackpool in the summer.
Let’s hope it happens.