Writer Laura Wade takes us on a journey through the past whilst conquering historical injustices through Judy and Johnny’s 50s stylised 21st century suburban life.
Grounded in Stepford Wives subservient that suits her we see Judy (Sandy Foster) and her darling husband, Johnny (Tom Kanji) play out a fictitious idealism that’s gradually flooded by reality and questions the morality of what was initially a social experiment set up by Judy after a work redundancy.
The absurdism of what it really means to live out a fantasy is considered carefully within the set design, being flung into a 50s home with the psychical and metaphorical prompt of clouds hanging over it. The opening scene sets the precedent to the audience that something so unadulterated would soon unpack the skeletons or in this case pin up dresses in the closet.
Feminism, overindulged individualism, and self-righteousness all come together to play out how a woman, Judy, is blissfully unaware of how her lifestyle impinges on the people she comes across and having her own moral compass set back 70 years.
In the first act a traditional relationship trope unravels itself when Johnny grabs a slice of pizza with his boss Alex, a woman (both not very 50s according to his wife) at the new shopping centre they vowed to never set foot in. This later directs towards the central characters’ different desires and contradiction of Judy’s life.
Wade’s play takes a lens to how people’s desires to live in the past can spiral. It explains how in modern society individuals may not be aware of how they are being exploited by capitalism with one scene where Judy uses a laptop to buy authentic 50s memorabilia on eBay. This acts as an analogy for the current modern clothing industry constantly back trending onto the aesthetic of the past which become trends that people attach themselves too in a bid to have a sense of individuality.
The perfect contradiction.
But the extremes into which Judy takes her adoration of the 50s visuals floods into adopting a culture that doesn’t serve well when living in the present. Judy is confronted by modern day #metoomoment when her friend Fran’s (Vicky Binns) husband, Johnny (Tom Kanji), a fellow 50s fanatic has a sexual assault charge brought on him in the workplace.
Home I’m Darling, offers a societal explanation as to why people who hold ideologies of the past conflict with today’s social expectations. I’m sure we’ve all heard older generations tell of times gone by: ‘It wasn’t like that in the [insert decade here]’ or ‘it was a simpler time’ as a rhetoric and the play does a remarkable job of explaining why this is a dangerous sentimentally. Although the ending slightly loses this message and dares to focus more on an interpersonal message of how relationships are about compromise, you still leave understanding that central message from Wade’s narrative.
Dates: Runs until the 30th of October
Location: Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
Price: Tickets start at £15
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