© Theatr Clwyd/ National Theatre [Image description: promotional banner for Home I’m Darling. The image shows Katherine Parkinson dressed as a 1950s housewife in a yellow dress and cream apron, holding a tray of green cocktails in cocktail glasses against a background of a blue slightly cloudy sky]
[Image description: five stars]
Home, I’m Darling is a new play by Laura Wade co-produced by Theatr Clwyd and the National Theatre which recently had its world première at Theatr Clwyd in Mold before it transfers to London’s National Theatre. It’s directed by Clwyd’s Artistic Director Tamara Harvey who’s at the helm of a star-studded cast, including Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans) and Richard Harrington (Hinterland, Poldark).
With this show being a co-production with the National Theatre and having a famous cast it has created a lot of publicity and excitement. Most of which I had tried to avoid prior to seeing the show (okay, as a Theatr Clwyd supporter I was obviously excited that yet again it was producing, and premièring a show with such prowess.) However, I wanted to let the play rather than the hype and rave reviews do most of the talking. Therefore I pretty much entered the auditorium of the Emlyn Williams theatre thinking that I was going to see a play set in the 1950s about a dutiful housewife. Yeah, that wasn’t quite what I got. But unlike finding rosemary in your lemon cake this was a good surprise.
The next two and a half hours depicted anything but the 1950s utopia Judy (Parkinson) has tried her best to create for her and her husband Johnny (Harrington.) As it transpires this “gingham paradise” is all a facade, a security blanket of sorts for Judy. Because despite the detailed accuracy of Anna Fleischle’s set and costume design, which at first helps us firmly believe we’re in the 1950s, we’re in fact in the present day.
We soon discover that for both Judy and Johnny and their friends Fran (Kathryn Drysdale) and Marcus (Barnaby Kay) it’s more Home, I’m not so Darling than Home, I’m Darling.
For all the star power on stage, the real star of the show is Laura Wade’s script. It firmly has its finger on the pulse of the current social climate, which has been asking several questions about feminism and what it means (or even looks like) to be a feminist now. Can Judy be a feminist, as she claims to be (because her current lifestyle is her choice) whilst her life revolves around devotion that borders on servitude? Whilst Johnny, despite all this focus on his own happiness, becomes unhappy because all this idealism isn’t real and he misses the feisty, high powered woman he married who “could give as good as she got.” A version we’d more stereotypically associate with modern feminism.
Meanwhile, Judy’s Mother, Sylvia (Siân Thomas), a staunch feminist thinks Judy is compromising all that her generation fought for. Telling her straight in a fabulously comic yet poignant monologue about what life was really like in the 1950s. Especially if you were a woman because choices were a luxury they were seldom afforded. Which coupled with Alex’s (Sara Gregory) comments about how the 1950s weren’t so great if you were black or gay or disabled shatters this notion of idealism and wholesome values.
And yet, what’s so… feminist, I guess about this play is that it doesn’t ridicule Judy or her choices but shows that we all crave security; that feeling of home and will often look for it in the wrong places.
Staging wise, although at first I was confused by the jiving scene changes, wondering why Fran and Marcus were robbing Judy and Johnny’s home I came to really enjoy them and wish I’d been taught this at drama school. They really helped keep the show moving, whilst building up suspense for the next scene.
As ever, I have to mention the fabulous stage management team, creatives and crew who make a show like this run like clockwork and for preparing and cooking all that food for every single show (sorry Judy.)
All in all, I had a fantastic afternoon at the theatre that once again it left me feeling very privileged that Clwyd is my local theatre. The combination of such stellar acting, evocative writing and creative talent had me completely engaged and immersed, especially when I found myself thinking that I must check eBay when I get home because Judy those dresses are darling. My only gripe was because I was on the front row I couldn’t see the upper floor in all its glory but accessibility won out there.
And just a quick note on accessibility. It’s so great to see the number of accessible shows available that have been available for this run but also how this show has tied in with the theatre’s excellent outreach work with the local community. From having the Arts from the Armchair group visit the set and reminisce as well as having the play live streamed to a local care home with the help of Streamer. It’s really wonderful to see.
Home, I’m Darling had it’s last two show at Theatr Clwyd on July 14th 2018, before transferring to London’s National Theatre from the July 24th to September 5th. It has since announced that the show will be transferred to the West End at the Duke of York’s Theatre from January 26th 2019 to Saturday the 13th of April. Before touring to Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 16th of April to Saturday 20th and then to The Lowry Salford from Tuesday 23rd of April to Saturday the 27th. And finally returning to Theatr Clwyd from the 30th April- 4th May in the Anthony Hopkins theatre which will allow more people to get to enjoy this fabulous piece of theatre. Details of how to book for each venue are below:
Please note there are no scheduled accessible performances (relaxed, signed, described etc) for any of the below venues.
You can book tickets for The Duke of York’s Theatre using the following link: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/home-im-darling-at-duke-of-yorks-theatre/whats-on for wheelchair spaces, more accessible seating and details of concessions contact 020 7452 3284 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can book tickets for Theatre Royal Bath using the following link: https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/event/home-im-darling/ for wheelchair spaces, more accessible seating and details of concessions contact 01225 448844
You can book tickets for The Lowry Salford using the following link: https://thelowry.com/whats-on/home-im-darling/ for wheelchair spaces, more accessible seating and details of concessions contact 0161 876 2183
You can book tickets for Theatr Clwyd Mold using the following link: https://www.theatrclwyd.com/en/whats-on/home-im-darling-2/ for wheelchair spaces, more accessible seating and details of concessions contact 01352 701 521 This venue is also part of the Hynt scheme.
Now, where can I get tickets to JiveStock?