The Lowry stage sets the perfectly poised world of Judy and Johnny, whose delicate fifties lifestyle begins to snag after brushing up against the modern world. Trapped in a prison of their own making, Home I’m Darling examines modern values, feminism and contemporary relationships through vintage living. Katherine Parkinson (IT Crowd and Doc Martin) stars as the mislaid Judy in this gentle comedy where a woman’s choice to live a hyper-focused Mad Men lifestyle becomes a modern nightmare. As the fragile and romanticised image of the period masks Judy’s anxieties of modern living, her over-reliance on her husband and his needs, allows her to lose parts of herself.
The slow-burning story follows Judy as she repurposes her hectic lifestyle as an office manager and transforms into an empowered housewife, with no children. Tied down by fifties traditions, the couples house is renovated with original 1950’s décor that has Johnny flaunting a jaunty Fedora and Judy flouncing in ruffled swing dresses. Besides their malfunctioning fridge, her damaged ideals of what fifties living encompasses bring alarming undertones that naturally leads to Judy undervaluing herself. Her personal tale develops into a gripping narrative, with a beautifully controlled performance by Parkinson, that plays out Judy’s well-honed persona slowly unravelling to the Lowry audience.
The dangers of idealising the past are brought to light through her close connections of friends and family who offer more insight into how Jane’s choices affect others and limit her own. While her make-up artist bestie attempts to head down a similar fifties route with her handsy, old-fashioned husband, her mother Sylvia (Susan Brown) is always at hand to remind her of her responsibilities in the real world. Reminding the audience that “nostalgia, ain't what it used to be”, Sylvia is the older voice of reason that prompts viewers into reliving the stifling, racist, sexist and homophobic fifties that has been swiftly whitewashed by Judy.
Written by Laura Wade and directed by Tamara Harvey, the production speaks on feminism and the need to stay vigilant. Framed in Judy’s small world, the push for future generations of women to look outside their bubble and continue to progress despite setbacks, makes this nostalgic narrative a timeless and motivational triumph.