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Review | ‘Home, I’m Darling’, the new play by Laura Wade

Find out what theatre reviewer Matthew Hyde thought of the new play

By Steve Brown

A new play by Laura Wade is always an exciting prospect especially after her scorching examination into the British class system with the massively successful Posh.

She now turns her attention to the timely issues of gender diversity, marriage, feminism and the modern world in comparison to the so-called glory days of the past with Home, I’m Darling.

The result is a fabulously original, funning and moving portrait of one woman’s struggle to hold on to her values in the face of modern day society.

Judy (Katherine Parkinson) lives in apparent marital 1950’s bliss with her husband Johnny (Richard Harrington). It looks idyllic with her cooking breakfast every morning, slippers and cocktail waiting upon his return.

The husband off working and providing while the woman blissfully cooks and cleans eagerly awaiting his return. By their own admission they are ‘sickeningly happy’.

It’s only when Judy pulls out her Apple Mac at the end of the first scene we realise all is not what it seems. Cracks start to appear and the terrifying modernity of the outside world starts to encroach.

Judy is a 1950’s obsessive and after being made redundant from a job in finance made the decision with her husband to become a fully-fledged 1950’s housewife and all that this entails.

She argues that as a feminist she has the right to make this choice. It is incredibly funny but achingly sad as Judy’s desire to live in the past when ‘life was simpler’ is clearly rooted in a pathological fear of the modern day.

As Judy the show belongs to Katherine Parkinson in what is a brilliant performance. With an exceptional sense of comedy there is always the hint of something far more brittle and fragile beneath her fixed smile.

Richard Harrington as husband Johnny is no raging chauvinist but a tender and loving husband desperate to help his wife out of the gilded prison she has created.

It’s a sensitive and touching performance. There is great support from Sian Thomas as feminist mother Sylvia horrified at her daughter’s determination to live in a period of history in which she wasn’t even there.

The ending feels a little too neat but we don’t care. With exceptional performances this is a play that challenges our perceptions of gender, domesticity and life itself, both real and imagined.

Rating – 4*

Home, I’m Darling plays at the National Theatre until September 5.

Words by Matthew Hyde