Home, I'm Darling at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre is funny, sad, uplifting and love-affirming

Sexual politics sounds heavy duty material for one play, never mind throwing in feminism and the #metoo movement.

By Sue Wilkinson
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 2:16 pm
Vicky Binns and Sam Jenkins-Shaw in Home, I'm Darling
Vicky Binns and Sam Jenkins-Shaw in Home, I'm Darling

Though Laura Wade’s play takes these themes seriously, it has a deceptive light touch and is seriously funny.

Home I’m Darling was a hit in the West End in 2018 and has been revived in a co-production between the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, and Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.

It has opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre to a socially-distanced and appreciative audience.

Sophie Mercell as estate agent Alex and Sandy Foster as stay-at-home wife Judy

The curtain rises on the 1950s home of married couple Judy and Johnny – but the time is now.

The couple are obsessed with the decade – before central heating and fridge-freezers – and embrace the fashions and social mores of the time.

The husband goes out to work and the woman stays at home, cooking and cleaning and supporting her man.

Judy has willingly given up a highly paid successful career in finance to stay at home and make house for moderately successful estate agent Johnny.

Sam Jenkins-Shaw and Sandy Foster step out in Home, I'm Darling

Their lives seem perfect – she kisses him off to work in the morning and has his dinner ready for him on his return.

But there are some 21st century must-haves they possess including a laptop and mobile phones – the cracks are already there before money worries drive a bulldozer through the fantasy life they have devised.

Jealousy, fear and desperation replace the veneer of contentment as they both question their relationship, their obsession with the 1950s lifestyle and how to survive their financial crisis.

There is not a mis-step from the cast as the play moves through its phases of enjoyable farce and domestic drama into the realms of suburban noir.

Sandy Foster and Tom Kanji in Home, I'm Darling

The chemistry between Sandy Foster as Judy and Tom Kanji as Johnny fizzes like one of the cocktails Judy has ready for Johnny’s homecoming each evening.

Vicky Binns and Sam Jenkins-Shaw play their neighbours Fran and Marcus. They are no mere foils to the main players. There is something nasty in their

relationship, too.

Their marriage disintegration mirrors that of Judy’s and Johnny’s – but you will have to see the play to see if either couple survives and thrives. Jenkins-Shaw’s portrayal of a multi-dimensional creep is first class.

Sophie Mercell plays Johnny’s boss Alex with all the confidence and independence which drives Judy mad with jealousy.

Susan Twist as Judy’s mum slings a dollop of realism into her daughter’s fantasy life and her adoration of her late father.

Her five-minute monologue on what the 1950s were really like is brilliantly, truthfully observed and hilarious.

She embodies the thought: nostalgia is just times that were never as good as we remember them.

The soundtrack, which includes Let’s Have a Party, Roll Over Beethoven and a Sinatra classic, is uplifting.

There is jiving and the stage directions and changes are choreographed to harmonies from the time.

The set is brilliant, the acting first class and the play rich in themes of darkness, light, sadness, melancholy, happiness, and is ultimately love affirming and uplifting.

Home, I’m Darling proves feminism has a sense of humour and shows men can cheer as loudly as some women for the cause.

Home, I’m Darling runs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre until Saturday August 14.

Tickets are available on 01723 370541 and at www.sjt.uk.com