Think Wandavision, but with real people who love the 50s and don’t need mind control to create their perfect world. But can it last? Directed by Becca Howell, Home, I’m Darling starts with delightful cartoon-ish nostalgia for simpler times, then delves into questions we need to ask around gender roles and work division today.
Plot of Home, I’m Darling
At the top of the play, we join Judy (Rachel Mock) and Johnny (Austin Michael Fidler) at the kitchen table before work. Judy bustles around the kitchen, preparing his lunch and fetching things for Johnny’s breakfast, even talking about getting a chicken.
Johnny goes on and on about how ridiculously, disgustingly, offensively happy he is with his life and with Judy before heading to work. Everything looks straight out of a 50s magazine or TV show until Judy pulls a laptop out of a drawer, revealing that something is out of place.
We later meet Judy’s friend Fran (Smantha Joy Luhn) and her husband Marcus (Aaron Whitehead), Judy’s mother Sylvia (Cathy Reosener) and Johnny’s boss Alex (Zoё Peterson). Everyone has different attitudes towards their choice to live like they’re in the 50s, from curious to accepting to rejecting.
What starts as a dream lifestyle choice starts causing tension as time progresses. Can one income provide enough for a whole household? Is dressing and acting like they’re from the 50s isolating Johnny from his peers at work? Is Judy wasting her potential by spending all her time at home?
Conversation-Worthy Themes in Home, I’m Darling
The playwright (Laura Wade) crafted so much interesting dialogue into this piece that explores division of work at home, feminism, the concept of nostalgia, and more. For anyone tired of hearing people talk about how “things were better in the good old days,” this play will feel like a breath of fresh air! Wade asks the right questions and presents both sides.
Division of labor at home is a growing topic lately because our modern world was not made for one person to do it all, or for two people to work full time jobs and keep up with chores at home. This play explores embracing traditional roles as a potential solution, but the characters run into a new math issue. Cost of living has increased but median incomes have not kept up, making it incredibly difficult for one person to stay at home. There’s also so much pressure on men to be the perfect provider and less appreciation for whoever stays home.
Isn’t nostalgia fun? One of the reasons Judy admires the 50s is because she thinks people were kinder and had more community then. But did they? Sylvia gives a beautiful monologue about how the 50s were nothing like Judy thought they were. Comparing and contrasting her own memories with Judy’s ideals is a powerful testimony to how everyone experiences things differently. It’s important to reflect on the progress we’ve made to make the world a better place for people who didn’t have a place earlier on.
Darling Performances You Won’t Find at Home
Mock beautifully embodies Judy from the beginning. She plays a bright, warm, enthusiastic housewife in love with life. As issues pop up and people question her, she unveils a delusional and manic side that is compelling and almost heartbreaking to watch. Her unwavering commitment to her role drives the show forward.
Fidler brings genuine heart to Johnny. We see an almost silly happiness near the beginning, but he fades into desperation as he just wants to connect with Judy and succeed at work. He gives an honest and beautiful performance that explores the complexities and pressures of being the sole provider in an unsure world.
Roesener plays a calm, steady, and strong Sylvia. Defying stereotypes as just a nagging mother, she is often the voice of reason when the other characters are spinning out of control. Her presence is perfect for this part, using firm tones when she handles serious topics, while adding enough light-hearted mannerisms early on to develop a likable personality.
Production Elements That Make a Stage Feel Like Home
A vibrant 50s home requires immersive production elements, and Falcon Theatre delivers in Home, I’m Darling. The attention to detail pays off with a beautiful “gingham dream” set (Ted Weil) complete with too many props to count, including plenty of food and drink that look amazing and aid the story. Props (Katherine Cohoon), sound (Becca Howell and Ted Weil), and costumes (Rachel Scardina), all reinforce this mix between modern and nostalgic worlds with cell phones, vinyl records, and so much more. They pull it off well, and stage manager Jake Schaub keeps things running smoothly.
The Bottom Line (TLDR) for Home, I’m Darling at Falcon Theatre
Falcon Theatre’s Home, I’m Darling is fun, funny, and thoughtful. Grab a friend when you come see it, because it’s one you’ll want to talk about afterwards!
Get Tickets to Home, I’m Darling at Falcon Theatre