As the first play of the 2020 MTC Season,Home, I'm Darling is a fun play with great acting, fabulous staging and great entertainment all round. Its theme of 50s nostalgia and housewife duties and life hide more than what we first see. The dialogue is sharp, witty and at times with underlying questions surrounding current themes of the roles of males and females, the institution of marriage, work-life balance and sexual harassment. The play, written by Laura Wade in 2018, was a recipient of the Olivier Award and even though its setting is in England, this does not detract from its impact.
Nikki Shiels, in her role as the committed 50s housewife, Judy, plays the role with charisma, energy and a luminosity which allows all those difficult emotions show clearly on her face. There is an air of stubborness, almost to the point of desperation, in her quest to be the ideal housewife, despite all the pressures of doing so. Her spiky exchanges with Jane Turner, as her slightly alternative hippie but also very reasonable mother, point to a complex, somewhat problematic mother-daughter relationship. Toby Truslove as Judy's husband, Johnny, plays the part with requisite patience and understanding but one can sense the faint underlying problems that eventually come to the surface and change the course of the play. The supporting cast of Peter Paltos and Susie Youssef, as the 50s music fans and friends, add movement and energy, especially in the dancing interludes. Johnny's boss Alex, played by Izabella Yena, takes on a rather stereotypical role of the busy, workaholic, modern professional woman.
The stage and costume design are exquisite in their detail, colour and the way the set works, and for me, this was a very entertaining comedy with some current and serious themes in the script. If you want to see this play at The Southbank Sumner Theatre, then hurry as tickets are selling out fast. The play finishes on February 29th.