Home, I’m Darling at the Duke of York’s Theatre
After a sell-out run at the National Theatre in 2018, Home, I’m Darling transfers to the West End for just 11 weeks. Transitioning from the intimate Dorfman, the play has a good home at the Duke of York’s theatre, with the venue’s small space inviting us into the world protagonist Judy (Katherine Parkinson) has created. We feel like guests, invited to witness an experiment unfold.
Following her critically acclaimed Posh, writer Laura Wade continues to closely scrutinise humanity and its class divides, albeit in a humorous fashion. Judy is made redundant from her role in Corporate Finance. Seeing this as an opportunity for a lifestyle change, she converts her home into a 1950s style, decorating it accordingly to a decade she wasn’t even alive in to experience. She dresses in vintage clothing and devotes her days to cleaning, baking and patiently waiting for her husband to return home after a hard day at the office. Obedient and subservient but still a feminist who is in control of her actions, or so she tells herself.
Anna Fleischle’s impressive set, consisting of a two-story home embodying the 50s style, is a treat to the eyes, with Lucy Carter’s lighting adding to the superficial spectacle. Tom Gibbons’s evocative soundtrack also lures us into this world of make-believe and in fact we genuinely think we are in the 1950s until a laptop is revealed several scenes in. When husband Johnny (Richard Harrington) misses out on a promotion at work financial pressures mount and the created world is pierced by invading reality, allowing Wade to question gender roles and feminism, two themes effectively explored but in a way that allows us, the audience, to form our own judgements and opinions.
Parkinson is utterly believable in her role, offering naturalism peppered with perfect comic timing and a guarded vulnerability. Her dynamic onstage relationship with Harrington is laced with the nuances of a married couple, with both performers complementing one another faultlessly. Judy’s feminist mother Sylvia (Susan Brown), endlessly encouraging her daughter to regain her independence and put her experiment to rest, is also of note, with an effective onstage chemistry allowing for authenticity and providing many laugh-out-loud moments. Strong support is also provided by friends Fran and Marcus played by Siubhan Harrison and Hywel Morgan respectively. Inspired by Judy, they too seek to emulate a 1950s world, with unfortunate yet comical consequences. Some of their scenes are reminiscent of the social awkwardness of Abigail’s Party and only serve to emphasise the flaws in Judy and Johnny’s false world.
The play flows at a pleasing pace with seamless scene transitions and a perfect balance of laugh-out-loud moments entwined with Wade’s thought-provoking dialogue. This is a close character observation beautifully written and performed under the confident and assured direction of Tamara Harvey and it’s not to be missed.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Home, I’m Darling is at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 5th February until 13th April 2019. Book your tickets here.