FOUR years and a pandemic since the first national tour of Laura Wade’s thought-provoking satirical play Home, I’m Darling last visited Bath, the new cast in the same production arrives in the city, and for those who remember April 2019, it’s the same brilliantly observed set from Anna Fleischle.
The story centres on Judy and Johnny, both avid Fifties afficionados who have transformed their lives into an advertising apologia for the post-war period. Nothing in their ideal home dates before 1959 other than the hidden laptop used to source items from eBay. But can such devotion to detail co-exist with the working world of the increasingly peculiar 2020s?
Tamara Harvey’s production has fellow Fifties fan friends Fran and Marcus dancing onto the set that is Judy and Johnny’s home as though they are the stage staff clearing the props for the next scene. So it’s a real shock when the affable, tactile Marcus demonstrates the unchangeability of human nature.
The new tour stars Jessica Ransom, like her predecessor Katherine Parkinson an alumna of Doc Martin as Judy, and East Enders regular Neil McDermott as Johnny, with Diane Keen stepping into the role of Sylvia, Judy’s realistic, former protest-marching, commune-dwelling mother. Matthew Douglas and Cassie Bradly are Marcus and Fran, with Shanez Pattni as Johnny’s boss Alex.
The new casting brings a more anxious atmosphere to the story, as Judy’s perfect-home and perfect-wife scenario comes under uninsurable external pressures.
It’s a fascinating exploration of how people could chose their own lives, retuning the details until they fit perfectly, with the fuel and impetus of love and determination. In these post-lookdown days, when society seems increasingly to want to chose, and live in, like-minded communities of exclusion and self-selection, Home, I’m Darling is both entertaining and sobering – and this production is both a delight and a red light.
Photograph by Jack Merriman