Audience's Potential Reaction to Act One Scene Two of A Taste of Honey
Back in the late 1950s, audiences who would go to see plays such as A
Taste of Honey would see things a lot differently and react in a
different way to audiences seeing the play today. In general, people
were shocked much more easily at the time when Shelagh Delaney wrote
the play. Back then, people of different races would not have been
accepted into the white community, homosexual acts were illegal, and
hardly anybody lived in poor conditions, as did Helen and Jo. Some
members of the audience may even have been offended that the area in
which they lived was being portrayed as having people such as Helen
and Jo living in it. Issues raised in the play would have been seen as
much larger problems in the late 1950s, than they would now.
Compared with the first scene of the play, Act One Scene Two is very
different. In Act One Scene One, there is mainly dialogue between
Helen and Jo. The conversation is sharp and fast, as both women are
equally exasperated with each other. Moving into Scene Two the pace
slows considerably, due to the tension and uncertainty between Jo and
her boyfriend. After the first scene, Act One Scene Two moves the play
along quickly, introducing a new character, Jimmie, who is heavily
involved in the occurrences of the rest of the play. The scene falls
into four main parts, two of which are based around Jo and her
boyfriend and two involve Jo's confrontations with Helen. Alternating
the parts in this way allows the audience to see how one area of Jo's
life affects her actions and emotions in the other.
Jimmie is a coloured nurse who is a member of the navy. He is seeing
Jo, although he is a few years older than her and, together, they make
a mixed race couple. When Jimmie is first introduced in Act One Scene
Two, the audience would probably have many mixed feelings about the
situation. In the first instance, they would probably judge him by the
colour of his skin. When the play was written, during the late 1950s,
there was much racial tension between whites and blacks. For the
majority of the audience, a boy like Jimmie would not have been
accepted into their community. Mixed couples were thought shocking, so
this, as well as the age difference, would have caused many people to
disapprove of Jo and Jimmie seeing each other.
When the scene begins however, Jimmie appears to be looking after Jo
well. He has collected her from school and is carrying her books for
her. A sense of relief that Jo is being cared for, may affect the
audiences feelings towards Jimmie. They may warm to him.
It is quite obvious that Jo and Jimmie are very fond of each other,
"Glad I came?"
"You know I am."
They kiss, but it is clear that Jimmie is very aware of the racial
attitudes of Jo and others...