‘Home, I’m Darling’ review

Theatre, Comedy
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(10user reviews)
Home, I'm Darling, Katherine Parkinson
© Manuel Harlan

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Katherine Parkinson is terrific as Laura Wade’s fine domestic goddess satire hits the West End

Laura Wade’s very enjoyable satire ‘Home, I'm Darling’ is now settling in at its third home, after opening at Theatr Clwyd in Mold (it’s directed by the theatre’s boss Tamara Harvey), and then coming to the National last year.

It’s a social comedy about Judy and Johnny, a couple whose fondness for the 1950s goes so far that they not only embrace jive dancing and swing skirts but also outdated gender roles: Judy quits her job to become a housewife who spends her days cleaning and cooking. Unsurprisingly, paradise turns out not to be a primrose fitted kitchen after all – and Judy’s staying at home soon has ramifications on their relationship, as well as their finances.

Wade’s concept is a cute one, taking a slightly eye-roll-inducing facet of modern life – our fetishisation of all thing retro – to extremes. It stretches credulity at times, but is very well put together, with full-bodied characters, sub-plots and back-stories, plenty of amusingly astute lines, and a good slug of social commentary.

Much of the latter is delivered by Judy’s sensible mother – a feminist who’s exasperated by her daughter’s faked, primped feminine domesticity. This is not what she marched for, she rages, before pointing out that the real 1950s were shit for anyone who wasn’t a straight white man.

It’s implied that this obsessive homemaking is, in fact, Judy’s own form of rebellion: she was brought up in a commune, where they ate lentil lasagne and no-one did any cleaning on principle. Her counter argument is that true feminism is about choice. There are moments where Judy sounds almost sensible; it might well be better if we all had more time, less money. But the dreamy idyll she envisioned never materialises: Wade suggests pretty strongly that the imbalance of power in those old gender roles cannot work in a modern marriage of equals.

These debates never go terribly deep, but they add spice to the proceedings, and Harvey creates a nice balance between gentle comedy and darker undercurrents. Susan Brown is very good as the exasperated, truth-telling mother, and if Richard Harrington’s Johnny feels a bit wet as a character, Judy is superbly brought to life by Katherine Parkinson. She juicily rolls all the comic potential out of Wade’s dialogue, while suggesting the ever-present panicky fear beneath it. Judy is rather sad, stuck in this pastel-coloured prison of her own devising.

Anna Fleischle’s detailed, two-storey design is perfect: like a mid-century modern doll’s house, with enough genuinely stylish furniture and tempting full-skirted frocks to make you understand, a bit, why Judy is so in thrall to the era. And while it might sound like damning with faint praise to make special mention of scene changes, they really are a hoot: nifty rock ’n’ roll dancing fills the gaps but also moves the props, while a flashback to the couple’s house as it was before the 50s makeover is done with delightful panache.

By: Holly Williams

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4 out of 5 stars

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tastemaker

I absolutely loved Home, I'm Darling, a play about a couple basing their whole lifestyle on the 50s attitudes and looks, but also more deeply a play about being a woman nowadays and what is to be a feminist. Can a woman be a housewife and be fulfilled in her role? The play tries to answer this question by showing the lives of Judy, her best friend and her mother. It's definitely a thought-provoking play, raising many underlying questions as well (are you wasting your potential being a housewife?, is it better to hide behind a facade or to be scared of trying to figure out who you really are? etc.), all of this staged in a beautiful set looking like a dollhouse, and with beautiful dresses. Katherine Parkinson is also incredible and shows just the right level of emotions never to fall into being ridiculous.

Tastemaker

It's a light, fun comedy, perfect for a Monday night. It revolves around live of a seemly perfectly happy couple obsessed with the 1950s. The live they lead (modelled at what they think was real 1950s), that started as an experiment, goes beyond the mid century aesthetics. They’ve spent a fortune trying to imitate the life of their parents, but what once brought them joy, starts to drive them apart. If you love the 50s or swing music, you will love this show. I loved the set and the dresses (I could leave in that house on the stage). It's highly entertaining and Katherine Parkinson is brilliant.


Superb - original idea, good staging, production novelties throughout and excellent convincing performances. As a proposition, it was also largely believable - we all know people who live a false life even though not in their interests. One caveat - although KP's performance was a tour de force, there is a high pitched monotone in her voice which is a little wearisome for 150 minutes (although this might be deliberate to relate to 1950s uniformity).  Also, theatre acoustics not ideal. The most spectacular solo is by Judy's mother as she launches into a diatribe against her daughter's life choice, pointing out everything that was bad about the 1950s, a decade long past before Judy was even born.

tastemaker

I liked the set, costumes, music and dancing, but the plot was mostly disappointing - definitely could have been so much better!

tastemaker

Sadly this production missed the mark for me. I found the characters irritating, the jokes forced and the plot line to be bizarre but not in a fun captivating way. Not one for me. 

Tastemaker

I loved this play, and not just because I am a fan of 1950s styling and adored the house (I have that coffee table!), music and costumes. I actually thought it was clever, funny and quirky and had some great moral messages running through it. At times, some of those messages were a little too 'on trend' and obvious, but if it makes people think and question the whole idea of feminism, a woman's choice and, often overlooked in these current times, a man's choices & expectations too, then it's worth it.

As the second act opens, the cracks begin to show and the mother gets to shine with a really great speech about the reality of the 1950s, which I found very moving. I also enjoyed the dialogue between the couple and found the tension that bubbles on the surface throughout most of the play quite captivating. At times, it almost felt a bit awkward and voyeuristic as you start to question their happiness and if the bubble of the perfect 1950s life will burst. Watch it and see.... 


Unimpressive and boring.  I found this predictable and hard work to watch.  The performance by Katherine Parkinson was irritating.  The other actors outshine her performance.  IMO, not a recommended play.  

tastemaker

Katherine Parkinson was brilliant in this tongue in cheek production. Brilliantly twee, it was a seriously kitsch set and wonderfully funny script. Warm and thought provoking - a real joy to watch.

tastemaker

Great sparkling comedy performance from Katherine Parkinson. This is very funny, very entertaining, & very satisfying night out at the theatre. Another success for the National Theatres Dorfman stage. Another production which is bound to transfer to the West End. 

Katherine Parkinson plays Judy, the perfect housewife who has chosen to live in the Wonderful world of the 1950s, with authentic decor and music of that era. A very clever & witty script. Judy's mother is played by Sian Thomas who has a great time delivering some of the best lines. 

Is a woman’s place in the home? Most of us would think not. What about if it’s the woman’s choice? This is the situation that is presented to audiences in the new Laura Wade play, ‘Home, I’m Darling’, performing in the National Theatre, Dorfman Theatre.

The plot concerns Judy, an intelligent, University educated woman, who decided to give up on her whole career to pursue her dream of being a 1950’s domestic housewife. She enjoys nothing more than to look after the home, (even having the time to dust behind things,) before welcoming her husband home with a cocktail, and dinner on the table. Of course this play is the cause of much debate about what is sexism and can a woman, even in this day and age, be subservient to her man without being criticised by society. I think it is interesting that modern society believes we have free choice, but how much choice do we really have if we rebel against modern values?

Katherine Parkinson portrays Judy brilliantly, and though it could be seen as a 1950’s Stepford Wives adaptation, it is as Judy says time and again, ‘this is my life’, both with trials and tribulations, it is by no means perfect even though that is the impression she is trying to achieve. It is fun, and funny, costume changes a plenty and ultimately worth every minute and a real laugh at just how stupid her whole persona of what it means to be a 1950’s housewife.

It’s a sell out as you might expect so do take advantage of day seats and Friday Rush tickets, details of which you can find out on the National Theatre’s website.