Written by Laura Wade, Home, I’m Darling premiered at Theatr Clwyd in 2018, transferred to the Dorfman Theatre at the National for a sell out run in July of the same year, before transferring to the Duke of York Theatre West End in January 2019.
Home, I’m Darling, tells the story of happily married couple Judy and Johnny, both fans of all things 1950s, attending rock and roll dance festivals with their friends and dressing in the fashions of the era. When Judy gets made redundant from her job in finance, she makes the decision to leave the pressures of modern life behind and become a stay at home housewife transporting herself and her home back to the 1950s. Whilst Johnny is supportive of this decision at the beginning, three years later financial pressure of being the only wage earner begins to have serious consequences on their marriage.
Director Tamara Harvey has created a piece of theatre that is witty, clever, spikey and funny. Anna Fleischle costume and set design are simply stunning; the two-storey design creating the effect of a 1950s doll house. Whilst copious amounts of petticoats, seamed stockings, fedora hats, turned up jeans and leather jackets transport the viewer into the era.
Lucy Carter’s lighting design effectively draws the onlooker’s attention to the area of the set where each scene is being played.
Rock and roll dances, choreographed by Charlotte Broom, are performed to a playlist from the era in-between scenes, by talented dancers (Hywel Morgan (Marcus) and Siubhan Harrison (Fran) who move props or parts of the scenery, which is innovative and effective. This also prompts the viewer to reflect on the mood of the previous scene and indicates what is going to happen in the next scene.
Susan Brown gives a strong performance as Judy’s frustrated feminist CND supporting mother, who raised her daughter in a commune and cannot understand her daughter’s fascination for the fantasy world Judy is living in.
Richard Harrington is superb as Judy’s waited on hand and foot estate agent husband Johnny, who misses the woman Judy was before she threw herself into becoming a 1950s domestic goodness.
Katherine Parkinson is outstanding as neurotic, anxious Judy and thoroughly deserves her best actress Olivier award nomination; delivering the lines with perfect comedic timing, whilst maintaining the fragility and sadness of the character.
As a modern-day professional woman with a demanding job, I am expected to cope with the pressures and expectations of society and to still be the best at everything I do, both at home and at work. I understand why Judy would want to leave these work pressures behind her. Would I make the same decision? No, it would not be my choice. That’s not to say that I don’t have days when the first thing I think is “oh, I would love to be at home today”, with no outside pressures to deal with.
Home, I’m Darling examines society’s fascination with the nostalgia described by the media rather than that of historical fact. The 1950s era that Judy is creating is the one portrayed in Hollywood movies, not the one of post wartime Britain complete with rationing and discrimination against anyone who wasn’t a straight white male.
This fresh, thought provoking, new piece of work is thoroughly deserving of its Olivier award nomination for best new comedy, and I thoroughly recommend going to see this if you can.
Home, I’m Darling runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre West End to the 13th April 2019, before embarking on a mini tour to the theatre royal bath (16th -20th April), the Lowry Salford ( 23rd -27th April ) before returning to Theatr Clwyd ( 30th April to 4th May)
We say: “This fresh, thought provoking, new piece of work is thoroughly deserving of its Olivier award nomination for best new comedy!”