Home, I’m Darling – Happy Wife, Happy life…
Katherine Parkinson is terrific as Laura Wade’s 1950’s domestic goddess satire becomes a West End hit. Laura Wade’s ‘Home, I’m Darling’ is now in at its third home, after opening at Theatr Clwyd in Mold and then performed at The National last year.
This piece is a social comedy about Judy and Johnny, a couple whose fondness for the 1950s goes so far that they lose sight of what their real world is. From only listening to 1950’s music, driving a 1950’s car, wearing 1950’s clothes, this piece heightens how reverting back to old social norms does not work in our modern world (Thankfully) and how a home and a marriage now consists of both partners having equal responsibilities. More importantly, both people in the relationship wanting that. Judy’s staying at home, housewife role, soon has ramifications on their relationship, as well as their finances.
Anna Fleischle’s detailed, two-storey design is perfect: like a mid-century modern doll’s house, with enough genuinely stylish furniture and tempting full-skirted frocks to make you understand, a bit, why Judy is so in thrall to the era. The attention to detail is exquisite and really helps pull the audience into the 1950’s.
The cast is very, very strong, but the night belongs to Parkinson, Natalie Haynes wrote a perfect example of her acting style for The Times stating that Parkinson “radiates an almost luminous brittleness: Judy is so desperate to maintain her artificial existence that she reminds us not of Doris Day but of Blanche DuBois.” – Clinging to an ideal paradise she doesn’t realise how her life is crumbling around her.
There is one excellent monologue spoken by Judy’s sensible mother – a feminist who’s exasperated by her daughter’s faked, primped feminine domesticity. This is not what she marched for, she rages, before pointing out that the real 1950’s were awful for anyone who wasn’t a straight white man. The scenes between Judy and her mother create such angst and anger, it really divides opinions. One moment Judy seems completely justified in wanting to live life as if they are in the 1950’s, then the next moment she is made out to look mad and ridiculous by her mother. A great teenage rebellious act. These two really move the line between what is fantasy and what is reality.
The dancing is fun, it breaks the scenes and the hard-hitting, sometimes cruel story-telling and let’s the audience enjoy the fun vibes of the 1950’s. Audiences did leave singing and dancing away, which reflected the cute quirkiness on stage.
Home, I’m Darling is a timely analysis of the gender divide and societies ever changing demands and different the generations change and are changing. Some feel that we a stuck in progressing, so in stead of progressing we are looking back. Trying to fix and adapt things that have already been. It is a glimpse into a much wider social issue. Many debates are created on what a social normality should be and how we should live our lives. However, never go terribly deep, but they add spice and Harvey creates a nice balance between gentle comedy and darker undercurrents.
If you have the chance to go see this show, I highly recommend it.