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Home, I’m Darling - The Little Theatre Review

Writer: Bliss Scarlett

As its title phrasing implies, The Little Theatre’s production of “Home, I’m Darling” by Laura Wade, weaves heavy-handed subversion throughout a satirical narrative; painting a full-skirted smiling housewife and her besuited breadwinnerover the daily trials of a modern-day woman. An enthused Caitlin Mottram bounds across the stage as our leading lady Judy, corralling the cast and audience to join in her 50s fantasy, via physical comedy and well-timed one liners, while sweeping us along in her conflicted identity crisis of financial hot shot, versus traditional values and corseted glamour.

Although initial clunky reveals of 21st Century tech invoked gasps from the largely geriatric audience on this packed-out Wednesday, by the end of Act 1, the created (50’s) and existing (21st C) realities of our main characters Judy and Johnny were seamlessly entwined across the time gap, with the sitcom set-up aiding its caricatural feel. The team delivering Little Theatre productions may live up to its name in size, however, it’s home spun energy fitted aptly with the intimate living room/kitchen scenery and the sound of elated crooners singing joyously in recognition of the 50s classics filled the scene transitionsilluminating the pauses for each scene construction.

Cait Mottram, Elaine Root and Tracey Holderness. Photo by Dave Morris

After a powerful opening of quippy, paced, precisely enunciated patter between our Mr (Gary Hunt) and Mrs (Mottram), we begin to witness other characters posit one of the overarching debates frequented in the play; is this an acceptable choice of lifestyle for our intelligent but befrilled Judy, and what does this represent for the women in her life? Elaine Rook has instant stage presence as Judy’s mother Sylvia and is the first to offer the audience a subversion, in a flipped stereotype of the elder/ younger feminism dynamic, while leaning into recognisable mother- daughter comical tropes. We also observe our best friend character Fran (played by Tracey Holderness), innocently add a host of ‘cons’ to Judy’s list of reasons for her 50’s lifestyle, including a small question memorably faced by the 50’s housewife in the form of her husband’s fidelity. Enter Johnny’s boss Alex, played by a John-Wayne-gaited Becky Orton, to great effect. Our modern-day woman Alex does it all! And in a pant suit and heels- while talking at great pace, answering emails, all the while sipping nonchalantly from a cocktail painstakingly prepared by our Judy. The cocktail party scene where Judy agitatedly prepares devilled eggs for the younger, slick and glamorous female boss appeared to resonate with many in the audience, with many cackles at Mottram’s tongue in cheek reactions to her husband’s interactions with this woman.

A couple’s dinner featuring Hawaiian shirts, a lengthy discussion about a 50’s themed festival ‘Jivefest’ and a two-step, both literally and figuratively, introduces us to the only other male present in our storylineFran’s husband Marcus, played by a balding, gregarious and opinionated Laurence Jackson. While Johnny’s commitment to both the 50’s ‘experiment’ and the marriage appears to dwindle in this scene, we observe Fran don a 50’s swing dress and Marcus positively enamoured with the idea of a doting housewife, missing no opportunity to congratulate Judy on her excellent ‘work’. During this meal, the audience is invited to witness the first of many escalations of the underlying tensions between Judy and Johnny due to a revelation of their dire finances that Judy hid, leading a bemused and comedically uncomfortable Marcus and Fran in the accompanying roomsipping cocktails and forking the odd bit of cake. While Marcus is sold as an innocent ‘every man’ in this scene, his enthusiasm verging on fetishization for the housewife aesthetic is revealed to be foreshadowing his character living out a “Me Too” moment, much to the confusion and dismay of his wife Fran, when he is told to take leave from work indefinitely. Other than some questionably timed scoffs from some older gentlemen in the audience, director John Ghent’s choices for the depiction of this divisive debate lead to a notable tension palpable in the audience throughout its presence in the second act. Currently the only man in the play to be presented in a positive light is Judy’s father, whose mention is peppered in each scene as she gazes adoringly in the direction of a photograph on her cabinet.

Act 2 opens with an exposition offering rapidity and clarity on the 50’s ‘experiment’ set-up that Johnny and Judy have landed in, with the audience now understanding that Judy was our driving force behind the 50’s themed conversion of the houseand quitting the workforce, having fallen in love with a life coincidentally similar to the topical “TradWife” viral sensation currently on Tiktok. As we are brought back to speed with the present day, Rook truly takes centre stage in a monologue to Judy and Fran, shattering the romanticised traditional housewife roles and gender role dynamics, for real life oppression, post-wartime frugality and scarcity, and the greatest mic-drop moment of all, we are informed of Judy’s late father in the role of a raging philanderer and her mother as the stolid protector of the household and of Judy’s reverence for him, in a purely selfless act- ironically having continued the role of duteous housewife long after he passed. The final act continues to neatly wrap up each storyline in a bow, with our feminist boss diminishing any thought of Johnny in a romantic fashion, displaying courteous pity to our leading lady, we see Marcus’ Me Too moment confirmed in an uncomfortable suggestion of Judy being paid for sex work, significant tumultuous fights between our Mr and Mrs, culminating in a healthy discussion of values and priorities, aiding Judy in untangling her identity from this 50’s fantasy she has clung on to.

Johnny (Gary Hunt), Alex (Beccy Orton) and Judy (Cait Mottram). Photo by Dave Morris

As we begin to close the show, it should be noted, Al Davis’ set design has an appropriately cartoonish affect that becomes more misaligned as the couple shift away from their initial Doris Day-Gregory Peck moment- this is even touched upon in the final feminist anthem by Rook in Act 2. John Bale‘s costumes are possibly most noticeable right at the start as the other characters draw attention to their individuality and in the end sequence as our besuited couple now dance around the set entranced by their honeymooning morning routine. The audience’s eyes follow Hunt and Mottram around the stage, as they feed toast into each other’s mouths and comically swapping suitcases at the door, closing the show and each storyline with satisfaction- this final scene in particular is impeccably choreographed by Samantha Hobson. 

A final note from the show, that many in the audience were heard to comment on how much real food our characters ingested in every scene- leaving the audience to wonder how they weren’t sick after every performance!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Home, I’m Darling plays at The Little Theatre in Leicester until Saturday 13th May. Tickets are available from

Cait Mottram (Judy). Photo by Dave Morris

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