Review: Home, I’m Darling
Female power is our focus for the month of March and while numerous events celebrate female achievements in an exemplary manner, there are also those that do the exact opposite.
One example is the ~ questionably ~ celebrated West End play Home, I’m Darling, which manages to demolish female accomplishments in only two-and-a-half hours.
Let's start with a positive note - the set design is truly amazing. A whole two-floor house looms on the stage, illustrating the set designers key eye for detail. Designer Anna Fleischle has given so much thought to the set, that the interior changes in a time jump, with magic-trick-like disappearing carpets and changing walls, that are the highlight of the show. The actors are also outstanding, Kathrin Parkinson and her fellow co-actors’ are authentic and their characters’ convictions appear frighteningly genuine.
Although, this leads to the negative aspects of the play, namely the characters’ beliefs and thus the play’s message.
Firstly, the content supports female oppression. Protagonist Judy and husband Johnny share a fascination with the 1950s and live their personal retro dream, with Judy being a stay-at-home-housewife, awaiting her husband to come home. At this point, it must be mentioned, that this is a respectable way of structuring one’s life but more the play drones on it become clear that the relationship has turned away from an equal relation between husband and wife and more about a man and his servant.
Interestingly, Johnny the one who is uncomfortable with the situation, while Judy is the advocate of her own inferior position. The intended message behind this choice is highly questionable and is only worsened by the couple's friends, newly-weds Fran and Marcus. In this relationship, Marcus is the driving force behind the stay-at-home-wife-lifestyle, pressuring Fran to give up her beloved job as a make-up artist. Fran reluctantly considers it but is finally 'saved' as Marcus gets suspended from work, due to his colleague reporting him for sexual abuse at the workplace.
This also leads to the second infuriating aspect, namely, the belittling sexual abuse and its victims. The play demolishes the hard work of the #metoo movement. While it is understandable that Fran tries to stay convinced about her husband’s innocence, it is distasteful to show Judy minimising the accusation. In a conversation between Judy and Marcus, the latter admits (in a mocking way, of course, because why would he take sexual assault seriously) to having touched his colleague inappropriately. Judy, however, still argues that the victim overreacted and that she, after agreeing to work for Marcus, should consider it a ‘friendly gesture’.
Finally, the play significantly lacks diversity. All five of the characters are white. This is ridiculous as there is nothing in any of the characters' descriptions, their religious or ethnic backgrounds, that suggests they cannot be played by people of colour.
All in all, the play is pretty atrocious. It is unfinished, leaving open-ended questions and does little to counteract the stereotypes it depicts. Maybe it is meant as a polarising view of ‘50s lifestyle but it comes across as an insensitive, sexist depiction of everyday life.