WHEN local community theatre actor Jonathan Tate takes to the stage at Bingley Arts Centre in Sheilagh Delaney’s iconic play A Taste of Honey, Aireborough audiences might be forgiven for thinking that this is some sort of new musical adaptation.

Jonny is so well known across Yeadon, Guiseley, and Ilkley for his many musical performances, most recently as gangster Moonface Martin in Anything Goes but, over the years, in productions of Oklahoma!, Carousel and Oliver! to name but a few. Yet his first love is actually performing in straight plays. A Taste of Honey is being staged by Bingley Little Theatre, where Jonny most recently played the towering role of John Proctor in The Crucible.

The play is iconic and, this year, has been added to the GCSE curriculum. It tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship. The cliched idea is of a contest between a perky Jo (Jessica Chewins) and her tarty mother Helen (Liz Hall) yet, as the story plays out, we are reminded of just how similar these two women are. As Jo’s friend Geoffrey perceptively points out, Helen "likes to make an effect" providing the clue to two central dazzling performances. There is a buried maternal instinct in Helen and a terror that her daughter will repeat her own mistakes. And you see the force of that in Jo: she not only, like her mum, becomes pregnant young, but also has a similar mix of vitality, self-delight and downright neediness. They're both, in a sense, performers constantly demanding an audience. While Helen flirts and then absconds with a gangsterish oaf, played by Jonathan, Jo finds fleeting romantic succour with a black sailor, and then a fragile domesticity with her gay best friend Geoffrey. The radicalism of the issues and milieu Delaney confronts makes the kitchen-sink drama real, and gripping yet underpinned with strong comedy throughout.

Jonathan said: “As the play is on the GSCE curriculum, this production will appeal to any GCSE student studying the text. It is always exciting and a revelation to see it leap from the page to the stage. But older audience members will no doubt have seen the iconic film version which starred Dora Bryan and Rita Tushingham in the lead roles. I play Helen's latest squeeze with as much spivvy bravura as I can muster but it is the two women, played superbly by Liz Hall and Jessica Chewins, who are front and centre of this fantastic play.”

The creative team at Bingley Little Theatre is pulling out all the stops to perfectly recreate the the 1950’s setting of a tiny, claustrophobic flat – successfully searching out every piece of furniture and crockery. As Jonathan added: “We have a large team of superbly creative people who spend hours making certain the setting is fully authentic. These creatives are the backbone of any production and put the icing on the cake for the director and us actors.”

A Taste of Honey runs at Bingley Arts Centre from Monday, April 8 to Saturday, April 13.

This is a popular play and BLT is expecting big audiences. Seats can be reserved online www.bingleyartscentre.co.uk or from the theatre box office, open Monday to Friday (10am to 1pm) in person or by telephone 01274 567983.