Home I'm Darling

Laura Wade
Theatr Clwyd
Theatr Clwyd

Judy (Katherine Parkinson) and Johnny (Richard Harrington) Credit: Manuel Harlan

A complex relationship, a metaphorical raspberry to modernity and a money-pit in the shape of a retro-refrigerator all feature in this sumptuous new Theatr Clwyd production directed by Tamara Harvey.

Before the performance even starts, the senses are assailed by the stunning set by Anna Fleischle as the bright and sparkling idealised world of the 1950s is brought convincingly to life. It certainly appears to be the perfect home for the perfect wife to dutifully provide the perfect marriage and the opening scene leads you to think this is very much the case.

Katherine Parkinson as Judy is every inch the doting wife as she prepares breakfast for husband Johnny (Richard Harrington) while he dresses for work. A perfect slice of 1950s domesticity, until the scene changes, Parkinson whips out an iPad and we realise we have entered the curious world of the retro-set.

Writer Laura Wade’s thought-provoking storyline takes us on a multi-layered journey through relationships, the pressures of modern professional life and ultimately identity. Artistic Director Tamara Harvey’s skilful direction ensures that that a superb cast are able to keep all these plates spinning throughout this superb production.

Katherine Parkinson wavers between heart-breaking, heart-warming and hilarious in an outstanding performance as Judy, the high-performing executive who takes the decision to drop out of the rat race and live as though it is the 1950s, despite being born years after the decade finished. Richard Harrington’s Johnny is on the surface the hard-working husband striving for promotion. However, as with everything else in this tale, probe beneath the surface and things are very different, in this case because of his new boss Alex (Sara Gregory).

The combination of Johnny’s failure to secure promotion, his unrequited desire for Alex and a spiralling debt that sees the dream home in risk of re-possession unbeknown to him is a fertile breeding ground for some outstanding theatre as the reality of the lives of Judy and Johnny are laid bare.

What is truly delicious about this production is the questions that remain unanswered. Why is the issue of children not mentioned when the marital machinations are so closely examined? Why is the financial drain that is the refrigerator so important and why does Judy feel such an attachment for a period she really knows very little about? This much is made crystal-clear by Sian Thomas as her mother Sylvia in a gripping passage where the realities of life in the 1950s are explained and not much of the “never had it so good” spirit is in evidence.

Home I’m Darling has a soundtrack to die for and some beautifully choreographed interludes of the Lindy Hop during scene changes. It is beautifully conceived, directed and performed and will leave you with the eternal question of what exactly drives relationships and the decisions of individuals.

Reviewer: Dave Jennings