‘A cracking piece of writing & a thoroughly enjoyable new play’: HOME, I’M DARLING – National Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Dorfman, National Theatre, London – until 5 September 2018

What price a domestic goddess? When the chance of voluntary redundancy came up, finance worker Judy took it and with her husband Johnny, chose to indulge their mutual passion for all things 1950s by becoming a period-perfect housewife. She’s soon whipping up devilled eggs and chocolate chiffon cakes to have dinner on the table when he gets in, running his baths, pouring his drinks, getting his slippers, an idyllic picture of what marriage used to be like.

But pictures can conceal the truth and as Judy decants supermarket-bought milk into glass bottles, shoves letters into the cupboard under the sink and fixes a rictus grin on her face, it isn’t clear that picture-perfect doesn’t exist. Such is the world of Laura Wade’s new play Home, I’m Darling, a co-production between Theatr Clywd and the National Theatre, which probes incisively away at domestic politics, female choice and the wisdom of gin and lime.

Katherine Parkinson is simply spectacular as Judy, a vision in froufy frocks and pin-up hair, a woman who has entirely reinvented herself, right down to the way she holds herself. Every inch of her bearing is perfectly poised – the cock of her head, the crook of her arm, her stance as she runs the ewbank round the living room, serves up sausage and mash or tries to hold together the pieces of her crumbling dream.

For as appealing as retreating from the modern world might seem, it’s a thoroughly isolating experience when taken to this extreme. Her outspoken feminist mother (a brilliantly brusque Sian Thomas) doesn’t get it, her husband gets to go out and have a sneaky pizza and chat with his work colleagues, her best friend likes to flirt with the idea but won’t go the whole hog. And what Tamara Harvey’s production does, is to show how all of this whittles Judy right down.

Hints of the psychology behind her decision are dangled – an upbringing in a commune, a throwaway comment about her painful shyness even at a beloved swing dance event – but it is as much about her obstinacy in sticking at it. Richard Harrington provides superb support as partner Johnny, whose tolerance is increasingly tested even if he gets the top taken off his egg every morning and the love story that persists is ultimately tenderly sweet.

Anna Fleischle’s design is a sight to behold in its realisation of a timewarp of a home and I really loved the way it allows the timeframe of the play to slip around. Charlotte Broom’s swing choreography allows for Kathryn Drysdale and a delicious Barnaby Kay to make the most of scene changes, and Lucy Carter’s lighting design is a riot of technicolor dreams gone awry. A cracking piece of writing and a thoroughly enjoyable new play.

Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Manuel Harlan
Home, I’m Darling is booking at the National Theatre until 5th September. Additional tickets for sold out performances of Home, I’m Darling will be available via Friday Rush and Day Tickets.
TweetSharePin+1

Related

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."