Writer: Laura Wade
Director: Tamara Harvey
Reviewer: Clare Howdon
The eagerly awaited Home I’m Darling is a collaboration between three female powerhouses of British Theatre; Laura Wade, Tamara Harvey and Katherine Parkinson and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Wade’s play centres around married couple Judy and Johnny and their decision to live their lives as a 1950’s couple. Judy gives up her job and assumes the role of the typical 50’s housewife, complete with a myriad of beautiful frocks and a fittingly accessorised house. Whilst at first all seems well for Judy and Johnny in this nostalgic utopia, very quickly the cracks begin to show and Wade’s superb writing unveils a series of thought-provoking commentaries on our current world.
The six-strong cast work remarkably well in bringing to life the delightful rhythms of Wade’s dialogue and Katherine Parkinson is sublime in her ability to reveal a woman clearly on the edge of sanity and struggling to cope with reality. Despite the many laughs that Parkinson’s impeccable comic timing provokes, Judy’s decent from an independent working woman into a fraught fantasist, trapped within the four walls of her ‘Gingham-Paradise’ is heart-breaking to watch.
Wade’s writing evokes an abundance of questions about our modern world but never strays into preachy or cliché. As one begins to reflect upon the horrors and confusions of life in 2018, who wouldn’t want to retreat into the safety of perfectly polished cutlery and matching napkins? Wade, in tandem with Parkinson, have created a character who is, in turn, ridiculous yet painfully relatable.
There are also some stand-out supporting performances. Richard Harrington is wonderful as bewildered husband Johnny, desperate to maintain his wife’s happiness albeit at the expense of his own and Kathryn Drysdale and Barnaby Kays’ toe-tapping transitions deliciously juxtapose the more intense moments of the play. Sian Thomas as straight-talking, pragmatic Sylvia is a much-needed antidote to her deluded daughter and the relationship between the two feels believable from the outset.
Tamara Harvey’s slick direction is complimented by a stunning set design by Anna Fleischle. The immaculately decorated and color-coordinated two-story house provides the ideal setting for a play that is fundamentally about the desire to escape into a seemingly safer and simpler time.
Home I’m Darling is a powerful production that resonates with you well beyond the final curtain. The language is relevant, the dialogue is tight, and the staging is entirely consuming. It is a fine piece of contemporary theatre.
Runs until 14 July 2018 | Image: Manuel Harlan