Home / Drama / Home I’m Darling – Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Home I’m Darling – Theatr Clwyd, Mold

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

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…

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One comment

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    “three female powerhouses of British Theatre; Laura Wade, Tamara Harvey and Katherine Parkinson”

    Wow! Step aside Caryl Churchill, Katie Mitchell, Lia Williams etc. You don’t think you’re, maybe, exaggerating a bit here, do you?

    “it certainly doesn’t disappoint”

    I’m afraid that’s exactly what it did. Both for me and for my sister – and we seldom see eye to eye on anything.

    “unveils a series of thought-provoking commentaries on our current world/…/Wade’s writing evokes an abundance of questions about our modern world ”

    I must admit, that is what we were expecting. You wouldn’t like to tell us what these commentaries and questions were, would you?.

    “Sian Thomas as straight-talking, pragmatic Sylvia is a much-needed antidote to her deluded daughter”

    Hmmm…you don’t think it’s a bit significant that her straight-talking manifests itself, within a couple of minutes of her first appearance, in a dogma-driven insistence that Judy’s adoption of the 1950s housewife lifestyle was driven by Johnny’s coaxing. Wade goes to great lengths – even introducing a flashback scene – to show that not only was this, as Judy says, a mutual decision but that the original idea was entirely hers and Johnny was overcome by her persuasion.

    “the relationship between the two feels believable from the outset.”

    I agree with that. But the relationship is an antagonistic one with 38 year old Laura still apparently working on the assumption that whatever her mother says the opposite is probably more true. There is a quantum difference between ‘straight talking’ and ‘overbearing’ and Sylvia alienates her daughter by erring on the ‘overbearing’ side. In the easy-going Johnny, I suspect Judy has married an idealised version of her absent father.

    There are issues raised in this play but few of them are really original. I -presume the theory of ‘internalised misogyny’ is given an airing with items such as Judy’s assumption that Johnny’s boss, Alex, is a man then, later, her overreaction to Johnny’s admission that he has ‘feelings’ for Alex. Johnny never acts on these ‘feelings’ but Judy not only presumes he has, but comes close to blaming Alex for them. Then there’s the accusations against Marcus and the way all four of the main characters not only defend him but automatically question the accuser’s motives. Then there’s the issue of the conflict between an idealised lifestyle and the reality. Here, much is made of Sylvia’s pointing out that the 1950s had a lot wrong with them – which is a bit of a red herring as Judy clearly makes enough concessions to modernity to avoid living in a cold house, or raking out the grate every morning, or submitting to sexual harassment or indulging in casual racism. The real issue is that over the last 60 years it has become much, much harder to run a household on one income.

    .