London Theatre Review: Home, I'm Darling at the Duke of York's Theatre
| By Kay Johal
"Hi Honey, I'm Home!"
In Laura Wade's Home I'm Darling, the sun is shining, rockabilly music is playing, and the household is a hive of activity – preparations for the day ahead are very much in swing. As Johnny descends the stairs, his breakfast is on the kitchen table, his wife Judy (Katherine Parkinson) is there ready to welcome him with a cheery smile and a good morning kiss. The picture of 1950s suburbia couldn’t be stronger as he collects his lunch and briefcase and leaves for his day at work.
In this idyllic set up however, things may not be as they seem, a point heralded by the appearance of a laptop – and as more references to modern life start to creep in, so the picture of domestic bliss starts to fade. Mobile phones, the internet and the understanding that this '50s lifestyle is little more than a fad – living the seemingly perfect life may perhaps not be a recipe for happiness after all.
To her friends Fran and Marcus, it’s all a bit of fun – they love the vintage clothes and the odd jive around the living room, but for Judy, it’s a serious way of life – and something she’s able to indulge after her redundancy some years ago. But the pressures mount after Johnny is overlooked for a promotion by his female boss, and Judy’s determination to live in the past lead her to ignore the realities of the present, much to the frustration of her mother, Sylvia, herself having been born in the decade that her daughter shows such affection for – a sentiment not shared.
This play is beautifully staged with a cleverly-designed mock-up of the Martins’ suburban detached home (complete with a Swiss cheese plant, an oversized fridge, a cocktail cabinet and a flamingo pink bathroom suite) occupying the full size of the diminutive stage at the cosy Duke of York’s Theatre, and the slick choreography uses every inch of the set expertly as the action moves from room to room.
Home, I’m Darling challenges thoughts and prejudices on the class system, does similarly with the changing gender stereotypes from the 1950s to the present day, and asks several pertinent questions: Should you learn to challenge the norm and be comfortable with the uncomfortable? Are passé stereotypes at all acceptable in modern society? Are the compliments of the past now seen as offensive? Is it better to simply exist, or to challenge the boundaries and live your life?
Or is it better to just live for the moment, be truthful with those closest to you, learn to give and take as life poses its inevitable dilemmas and work through it as an equal partnership?
You be the judge.
Home, I'm Darling tickets on sale now from £22!
The sharp new play by Laura Wade, Home, I'm Darling, is an absolute tour de force that boasts sold-out runs at both the National Theatre and Theatr Clwyd. The Duke of York's Theatre production starring Katherine Parkinson as Judy is currently booking until 13 April 2019 and was recently shortlisted for an astonishing five Olivier Awards, including Best Actress for Parkinson, Best Supporting Actress for Susan Brown, Best New Comedy, Best Costume Design, and Best Set Design.
You certainly don't want to miss this critically acclaimed production.
Book your tickets to Home, I'm Darling at the Duke of York's Theatre now from just £22!