Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“Richard Harrington Gives a Beautiful, Unshowy Performance”

High Innovation at “Home, I'm Darling”

Livestream & London Broadsheets , Theatr Clwyd , July-07-18
High Innovation at “Home, I'm Darling” by Livestream & London Broadsheets An Anglo-Danish company Streamer is assisting Theatr Clwyd with its community engagement activity. It was unveiled on 4th July with director and actors in conversation. It continues on 14th July with the live streaming of the new production into three care homes. Tamara Harvey opened the conversation with Katherine Parkinson and Richard Harrington on the same theme “It's an event for the theatre members- It's part of our wider desire to draw our communities into what we do here at Theatr Clwyd.”

Platform conversations beyond the production itself are now common. Directors and playwrights can be revealing. For actors their alchemy is in what they do. Relocating it into explanation is not easy. Three main impressions come over in these thirty minutes of conversation. The first is the warmth, firstly between stage and audience, and secondly, between the artistic collaborators. Richard Harrington in shorts and t-shirts on a sweltering day is a relaxed presence with a reminiscence or two to raise a smile.

The second impression, in response to audience question, is the relationship between the two co-producers. There is not the slightest bit of England box-ticking in the South Bank co-producing with a company of Wales. The two are equals. The superb set is made in Mold by the craftsmen of the company. Some of the props come from the NT, the costumes come from both companies. And as a production directed by Clywd's Artistic Director the audiences of Wales see it first.

The third aspect that comes over is the sheer love of theatre and its making. The actors are revealing on the difference between television and the live stage. Tamara Harvey reveals two lessons of directing learned at the age of 17. The second is knowing just when to step away. Theatre is made up of many talents. What happens backstage is unknown to us in the auditorium. Laura Wade's play has a particular woman's role at its centre. Katherine Parkinson's pays tribute to the fine role played by people who rarely figure publicly. The dressers of Clwyd are given the highest praise.

Star ratings are a crude indicator of quality. Nonetheless, the estimable Dominic Maxwell gave Theatr Clwyd the full five for “a stunning satire on marriage.” For the Times (not in the public domain): “Tamara Harvey's sympathetic, propulsive direction is acted to perfection... Richard Harrington gives a beautiful, unshowy performance...Wade's comical, sad play keeps surprising you with the richness of its imagination and the sharpness of its thinking.”

The Guardian sent the unique Natalie Haynes to see the premiere. Her report excerpted: “Home, I’m Darling is a scalpel-wielding dissection of the fetishisation of wifeliness, a 21st-century cultural cul-de-sac populated and policed almost entirely by women. The 1950s ideal of cupcakes and cocktails, vintage clothes and village fetes, is all good squeaky-clean fun at one level. But as playwright Laura Wade identifies, this icing sugar-drenched life is not as sweet as we might imagine.

“...Tamara Harvey has directed Wade’s work before, and it shows. There is an easy confidence in the writing (although there are a few moments where the script might have been pruned a little), which gives the show a sense of efficiency. The narrative drive never feels in doubt, as the second half opens with a flashback to let us see how Judy began her journey. Designer Anna Fleischle has created a vast set – with all the attention to detail Judy would have employed – which has a neat ability to reflect the shifting timeline.

The cast is strong, but the night belongs to Parkinson, who radiates an almost luminous brittleness: Judy is so desperate to maintain her artificial existence that she reminds us not of Doris Day but of Blanche DuBois. She clings to her fantasy, long past all reason, and we gradually begin to see that what started as a fun experiment has become a both prison and a denial of reality. Her mother, Sylvia (a gratifyingly impatient Sian Thomas), is infuriated by her daughter’s choices; as a child of the 50s she has no love for the bygone age: “Everyone making do and mending things that were already broken.”

Natalie Haynes can be read in full at

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/jul/04/home-im-darling-review-laura-wade-katherine-parkinson

Director and cast are in conversation at

https://www.theatrclwyd.com/en/home-im-darling-live-chat/

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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