JODIE Prenger will be bringing the classic drama A Taste of Honey back home when the National Theatre production comes to The Lowry as part of a national tour.

Shelagh Delaney’s groundbreaking play about working class life in Salford runs from next Friday until Saturday, September 21.

Before she takes to the stage, Jodie took time out to answer a few questions.

What was it that grabbed your attention about the play?

It spoke to me because my Mum’s side of the family are all from the Manchester area and I just really related to it. When I went for the audition, I just thought “I’m going to do my Nan.” It was her voice; I could just hear it.

What’s the play about?

It’s a working class story, set in Salford. The central plot is about a mother and daughter relationship between Helen and Jo. But as well as that relationship and their struggles, Jo meets a sailor and that’s a big turning point for her. He gives her all the love she craves from her mother.

The play was written in 1958, and that relationship was taboo because Jimmy is black, but the piece explores other areas that hadn’t been explored much on stage before too. Jo’s friend Geof is gay, and even the depiction of the working class, and working class women in particular, was unusual.

Does it still have the same power to shock?

When they first put it on at Theatre Royal Stratford East, the actor who played Geof, Murray Melvin, was told where the exits were because they didn’t know the reaction that the play would get. That’s how taboo it was. Imagine being told that, how to escape!

We have moved on, but I think it’s important to look back on where we’ve come from and recognise how far we’ve come. I think that’s why A Taste of Honey is still very relevant. I think it’s great to celebrate how far we’ve come; sadly we’ve still got a bit further to go.

You’re playing the role of Jo’s mother, Helen, who’s hardened to the world, a single mother and has issues with alcohol. How would you describe her?

In an old review they called her a monster. I don’t think she is. I don’t think she’d ever see herself as a victim either, more a woman of circumstance. I love her grit. I love her brassiness. Her humour is exceptional. There’s so much I love about her, but she’s flawed in many ways too.

You mention her humour, the plot and themes of A Taste of Honey tackle very serious and dramatic issues about class, gender, sexuality and race. Is there light amid the darkness?

There is. It’s full of that warm northern humour, that even in your darkest days, you make light of it. The characters may be in the depths of poverty, but they make do and they struggle on. That’s what they all did. They had that fight in them, that “I’m going to get through this.” That’s the great thing about A Taste of Honey – it’s a beautiful funny fight for life.

It’s amazing to think that at a time when it was much harder for women and writers from the working class to have plays staged, Shelagh Delaney made such an impact as a teenager.

She was an unknown quantity. She was 19, from a working class family, and also a woman. And she was writing about working class women that existed at that time, but really weren’t heard about.

The barriers that have been broken down since then have been phenomenal. We have to hold our hands up; we owe it to women like Shelagh. They’re the people we have to tip our hats to because they literally paved the way for us, the women of today.

Why do you think it’s so important that these different voices were heard on stages across the UK then, and continue to be heard today?

In a nation where there’s every kind of colour, creed and human being walking around, everyone should have a voice. I think that should resonate in theatre. Everyone has the right to be heard. Especially stories like this. People coming to watch it don’t know what they’re going to discover. That can really induce people to open their eyes and find something new or consider their opinions. That’s what theatre’s about. That’s why every voice should be heard.

How are you feeling about bringing A Taste of Honey to The Lowry?

I get quite nervous in Salford; I was there before with Shirley Valentine. My brother lives in Manchester and I get the nerves because I hold that area in high regard as it’s where my family’s from, but I’m looking forward to going back there after giving them my Shirley.

A Taste of Honey, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Friday, September 13 to Saturday, September 21. Details from 0843 208 6005 or