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Ghost & Spice Productions opened a new production of a famous show this past Friday, April 20. The company hangs its hat at Common Ground Theatre, and the small performance space is the perfect venue for Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey.
Common Ground is committed to the growth of the arts and helps develop small companies around the region. This theater provides a wonderful space for incorporating the audience and creating a real life dramatization.
A Taste of Honey tells the story of a seventeen-year-old working class girl entrapped by poverty and an alcoholic mother. Her mother lacks parental judgments and affection and often controls her daughter. This story takes the audience through passionate relationships of both mother and daughter and shows the harsh reality of their poverty-stricken life. A Taste of Honey (1958) grew out of the so-called "Kitchen Sink" genre of British Theater that took place in the '50s and early '60s.
The story begins when Helen (J. Evarts), described by Chris Jones as "a perennially absent and self-absorbed woman," arrives with her teenage daughter in a grubby apartment located in a gloomy district of Manchester, England. Evarts gives a stunning performance of a mother who is absent yet not as cold-hearted as one might think. Helen's daughter Jo (Jennifer Evans) soon finds herself alone and impregnated by a black sailor (Kashif Powell) who is seen by the audience only in Jo's dreams. Evans gives justice to the role as a young teen who yearns for her mother to be present in her life. Evart and Evans accompany each other beautifully.
Peter, played with conviction by Hampton Rowe, appears as one of a long line of men in Helen's life. Loren Armitage, who plays Geoffrey in his first Ghost and Spice production, gives an astounding performance as the gay art student. Armitage has a wonderfully tender sense and takes on the role of surrogate father for Jo's unborn child.
As directed by Jeff Alguire and accompanied by his crew — Amanda Hahn and Stephanie Thirolle (lighting), Shelby Hahn (stage manager), Rachel Klem (production manager), Meredith Sause (video), and Jordan Smith (executive producer) — the opening of A Taste of Honey was a stunning performance with few bumps. This story of sexuality, race, class, and gender shocked mid-twentieth century Britain and revolutionized British theatre. The cast and crew at Common Ground Theatre did justice to the play's storied past, paying attention to detail and leaving the audience wanting more.
A Taste of Honey continues through May 5. For details, see the sidebar.