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Theatre Review: Home I’m Darling, National Theatre

PUBLISHED: 16:55 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 03 August 2018

home i'm darling

home i'm darling

Manuel Harlan

Laura Wade’s entertaining relationship drama examines the appeal of a retreat from complexity to the more defined certainties of the 50s.

home i'm darlinghome i'm darling

HOME I’M DARLING

NATIONAL THEATRE

FOUR STARS

Between Me Too, and social media, our confusion over gender identities and behaviour is more fraught than ever.

home i'm darlinghome i'm darling

Laura Wade’s entertaining relationship drama examines the appeal of a retreat from complexity to the more defined certainties of the 50s.

Katherine Parkinson’s Judy’s insists it’s her choice to take redudancy and become a pinny wearing housewife, and that she’s just dividing up tasks differently with her estate agent husband Johnny.

Not only do they run into practicalities – 21st century mortgages demand a two income household – but Judy’s reversion to the omerta of turn-a-blind eye wifeliness creates waves in their marriage.

Besides feeling oddly emasculated by the arrangement - secretly slipping away to pizza parlours and fancying his go-getting young female boss - Johnny misses cooking and making her tea.

Judy’s spiky mother (a beautifully acerbic Sian Thomas) is outraged that all her feminist marches have resulted in a daughter who decants her shopping into vintage tins and takes the top off her husband’s egg.

Her lacerating speech about contemporary micro-obsessions sets the big feminist battles of the past firmly into context.

While Parkinson on comic form delivering dry observation about the absurdity of modern mores, Wade neatly skewers the artifice of Judy’s 50s fantasy and the kind of nostalgia for the past that got us into Brexit.

As Judy sashays downstairs in full evening fig to serve devilled eggs, the absurdity is clear to everyone in the room.

Parkinson beautifully captures Judy’s blinkered obsessions, we see too that her chaotic, filthy childhood in a feminist commune had left her yearning for order, and crucially unsure of her identity.

Richard Harrington is affecting as Johnny, a loving but confused husband struggling to keep Judy happy,

Anna fleischle’s set vividly evokes their lovingly decorated home, from sunny yellow kitchen to tastefully sourced retro decor. There’s good support from Kathryn Drysdale as Judy’s insescure friend Fran, whose husband’s unreconstructed ideas about unwanted sexual overtures make Judy realise just where the retreat to the 50s has to stop.

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