Written by Laura Wade
Directed by Alexandra Pelvin
Canberra REP production
Canberra REP Theatre, Acton to 8 July
Reviewed by Len Power 28 June 2023
The audience’s uncertain reaction (‘Is this a comedy?’) as the lights came up for interval, showed that ‘Home, I’m Darling’ is not just an enjoyable comedy romp. It certainly is very funny but it also makes pointed observations about relationships, nostalgia, responsibilities and choice in marriage.
English playwright, Laura Wade, has produced a cleverly sharp satire of modern life. Judy is on a quest to be the perfect 1950s housewife to her husband Johnny. The problem is that it’s 2018 and being a domestic goddess isn’t as easy as following a manual.
On an extraordinarily detailed set by Andrew Kay of the entire interior of a house decorated to perfection with 1950s furniture and fittings, director, Alexandra Pelvin’s production is a highly detailed delight. Her cast of six all give fine performances of great depth and comic timing.
As Judy, Karina Hudson plays the 1950s housewife to perfection. As the cracks begin to show, she deftly shows the other side of Judy struggling to maintain her fantasy in a modern world.
Ryan Street, as her husband Johnny, plays him as a mild-mannered, kind and decent man who is ready to indulge his wife’s fantasy but then finds that modern life’s pressures make him question their marriage. Ryan Street took over the role recently due to the illness of the original actor playing the role. He has achieved an effective performance in a short time.
Amongst the other performers, Adele Lewin shines as Judy’s cynical mother. Her long speech about actual life in the 1950s is a highlight of the show. Terry Johnson as Marcus, a friend of Judy and Johnny, gives a terrific performance that is funny, oily and then chilling as his character shows his true colours. Natalie Waldron as Marcus’s wife, Fran, is effective as a very modern day self-centred woman. Kayla Ciceran is very natural as Johnny’s boss, Alex.
The scene changes that involve a lot of clearing away and resetting of props, is well choreographed with a wicked sense of humour. Stage Managers Paul Jackson and Ann-Maree Hatch are a delight as the silent ‘domestic elves’ working in the dark.
There is also a good choice of 1950s music in Justin Mullins’ sound design and colourful period costumes by Helen Drum.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.