Home, I’m Darling is the play of the moment. Touring to Bath following its Olivier Award win for Best New Comedy barely a fortnight ago, it is unsurprising to find it is an absolute gem.
Laura Wade has created a bitter sweet tale of Judy, a successful highly-paid woman who accepts redundancy to live the ‘dream’ of a fifties housewife, providing for her husband and safe from the modern world in their suburban home.
Katherine Parkinson (Judy) is outstanding in the central role. Her brittle defence of her choices leaves her glass like and so heartbreakingly fragile.
Her attempts to control every last moment of their fifties world impacts on their marriage and wider friendships, their vintage hobby has taken over every possible breath.
Judy is in denial over the mounting bills and her husband misses work opportunities due to their lifestyle.
Whilst Judy lives the ‘dream’, it is her feminist mother, Sylvia (Susan Brown) who is left to speak the brutal truth. The era was not dreamlike or easy or perfect, far from it and the vintage dream does not belong to those who grew up in post war Britain.
Her bewilderment at Judy’s choice to return to a time she did not even live in provides a cutting, salient moment in the show.
All characters are beautifully crafted by Wade. The debates of housework roles are not laboured but the reality is what value does running a home hold? Jo Stone-Fewings (Johnny) as Judy’s husband is looking for balance to be allowed back into the kitchen and be more than a working man.
He sees the impact of their choices in different ways. Friends Fran (Siubhan Harrison) and Marcus (Hywel Morgan) bring a further insight into their world with an uncomfortable twist.
There is so much to enjoy in this work. The applause inducing set design by Anna Fleischle is picture perfect with great tricks to illuminate the humour. Tamara Harvey’s directing brings a great sense of fun to proceedings employing choreographed scene transitions to keep the energy flowing.
Whilst on the surface it may deal with the role of a housewife, this play is far more than that.
There is deep sadness and sense of loss. Through Judy, Wade allows us to see the sugar coated attraction of living in another era. Yet it was used originally by Judy as short term security from a relatively minor setback it has become her prison and her denial of reality threatens everything.
This is a superb production, steal a ticket if you need to.
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Reviewer: Petra Schofield
Home, I’m Darling, a new play by Laura Wade, directed by Tamara Harvey, is showing at the Theatre Royal in Bath until Saturday 20th April 2019.
For more information, and tickets, visit the Theatre Royal website.