The curtain opens and the audience are welcomed into an idealised 1950’s household as Judy, played by Jessica Ransom, whisks around the kitchen preparing breakfast, readying her husband’s lunch before he’s out the door and off to work to provide for his household.
We have been transported to the fifties until Judy has a moment to breathe and sits down with her laptop as the scene ends.
Home I’m Darling follows one couple, Judy and Johnny, played by Neil McDermott, in their quest to live as if they are in the fifties, turning what was once a hobby and enthusiasm for an era where through rose-tinted glasses everything was perfect into a sustainable way of life. But nostalgia is powerful, and are those times gone by all they’re cracked up to be?
“An amusing, affecting, inspiring evening of soft gingham and hard truths.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (The Times)
Home, I’m Darling opens tomorrow and there are still some tickets left for this “sharp, funny and sad” (Independent) Olivier Award winning comedy!
— The Marlowe Theatre (@marlowetheatre) May 8, 2023
Our first act focuses on the grand experiment and really the fantasy our couple has immersed themselves in but as we get further into the first act the cracks begin to show.
Ransom embodies the bubbly, stay at home housewife especially as the couple attempt to impress Johnny’s boss, a scenario that felt classic fifties sitcom. Yet all is not well as it doesn’t translate to a happy ending in the modern setting. Instead, boss Alex played by Shanez Pattni, leaves with more questions about their lifestyle and Johnny’s insecurities about the outward appearance of this life are brought to the fore.
The standout performance must be Ransom as Judy, she expertly walks the line of maintaining the fifties façade while also hinting at Judy’s vulnerable side. It makes the audience question whether the whole experiment was more to allow her to disappear from the world for a while. Under the frocks and perfect make-up is an incredibly deep character, desperate to keep the dream alive.
“I’m intrigued to see what conversations it starts.”
— The Marlowe Theatre (@marlowetheatre) May 2, 2023
A mention also must go to the chemistry between Ransom and McDermott; there is real affection between them. Whether they are dancing round the kitchen or in a blazing argument you always sense there’s a real commitment to each other and coming through this together.
The play comes into it’s own in the second act as reality comes crashing down, intertwined with a real conversation around the questionable gender politics of the era. A stand out scene has to be the speech by Judy’s mum Sylvia, played by Diane Keen. Not just a voice of feminism but a voice of reality, having lived through the fifties Sylvia shows how this stage and screen view of the fifties is pure fantasy and not reality for any.
This confrontation with reality is also brought forward by a bit too nice friend Marcus whose line of “you cant do anything nowadays” calls back to another troubling part of the era where men in positions of power could do as they pleased.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable performance with impressive set design and costumes that really transport back to times gone by. All good plays create a conversation and that’s exactly what Home I’m Darling does as funny as it is thought provoking.
Home I’m Darling runs at the Marlowe until Saturday May 13, with tickets available from the Marlowe’s website.
Featured image credit: Jack Merriman