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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology A Taste of Honey

By • Feb 17th, 2014 • Category: Cappies, Virginia

Sometimes the stark bleakness of everyday life is pierced by small moments of happiness. But it often turns out that these tastes of sweetness must be paid for in more suffering. In an emotional and believable rendition of A Taste of Honey, the cast and crew of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology brought life to this harsh reality.

Written by Shelagh Delaney, A Taste of Honey, originally intended as a novel, first opened at Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Royal Stratford East in London in 1958, when Delaney was 18. It was transferred to the West End, then Broadway, and was adapted into an award-winning movie in 1961. Part of the “kitchen sink” movement, a genre which caught wind in Britain in the 1950s and used the lives of working-class characters to explore social issues, A Taste of Honey touched on many controversial topics such as prejudice concerning race and sexual orientation and was considered a defining play of the era.

The play tells the story of a working-class mother, Helen, (Jordan Goodson) and her daughter, Jo, (Liesl Jaeger), who live in Salford England in the 1950s. When Helen marries a rich man quite a few years her junior (Daniel Sainati), Jo is left alone to fend for herself. She accepts a marriage proposal from a young black sailor (Anthony Carrington), but he soon goes to sea and leaves her alone, pregnant with his child. Jo then finds a loyal friend in Geof (Jake Gonzalez), a homosexual art student, who begins living with her and playing the role of surrogate father to Jo’s unborn baby. For some time they’re happy, but Helen returns to the picture, the little life that Geof and Jo have made together is thrown into question.

Goodson brought sarcastic and cynical Helen to life with a clear vision and commitment. Her stylized 1950s voice and vivid facial expressions were perfectly suited to up-close black box style performance. She subtly hinted at a softer side buried underneath Helen’s usual brassy bravado as the character developed, showing an all-around interesting and layered character.

As kindhearted, earnest Geof, Gonzalez connected with the other actors on a personal level to give a sincere and authentic performance. His relationships with the other characters seemed natural and organic, especially in his friendship with Jaeger’s feisty Jo, and he masterfully conveyed the weight and significance of his character and circumstances.

While some actors rushed their lines or stumbled over them at times, their commitment and believable relationships with each other kept the interactions genuine and convincing.

The realistic props transported the audience into the dingy, cramped flat. From a glass milk bottle to a vintage magazine to detailed charcoal drawings, the props added an impressive air of authenticity to the production.

The illusion of the seedy, impoverished lifestyle of the less fortunate during the 50s was further strengthened by the appropriately rundown set. A living room with a faded couch, a bedroom with a single shabby bed, and a grimy kitchen created an overall image of hardship and destitution.

In their simple, authentic performance of A Taste of Honey, the cast displayed their talent and skill with believable emotion and convincing relationships. The tech helped to create the feeling of being down on one’s luck in the 1950s with skillfully executed props and set. The creativity and aptitude of the students of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology created a truthful, powerful performance in the stripped-down look at the grittiness of real life and the trials and hardships of relationships.

by Sarah Santoro of Stone Bridge High School

Photo Gallery

Anthony Carrington and Liesl Jaeger Jordan Goodson and Daniel Sainati
Anthony Carrington and Liesl Jaeger
Jordan Goodson and Daniel Sainati
Liesl Jaeger and Jordan Goodson Jake Gonzalez and Liesl Jaeger
Liesl Jaeger and Jordan Goodson
Jake Gonzalez and Liesl Jaeger
Jake Gonzalez, Daniel Sainati, Liesl Jaeger, Jordan Goodson
Jake Gonzalez, Daniel Sainati, Liesl Jaeger, Jordan Goodson

Photos by Mark Strickman

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