Latest Entries »

Image result for summer holiday tour Summer Holiday is weird.

There are lots of good points, but on the whole I found it odd.

I’m not familiar with the film, so maybe it’s that. I walked into the Storyhouse knowing only the incessantly upbeat title track and that the film featured Cliff Richard. In Cliff’s role, Don, was Ray Quinn, who did a sound job as the lead. He’s got a good voice and he can certainly move. Don’s friends are a mixed bunch, varying in oddness, with Matt Trevorrow standing out as Cyril, Don’s lazy, but confident buddy. Don and his friends renovate a London bus and travel across Europe, picking up a girl group and reluctant famous singer on the way. Sophie Matthew plays Barbara with gentle naivety. Taryn Sudding also adds fabulous humour, giving Velma-Von-Tussle-realness, as Barbara’s overbearing mother, Stella.

The standout feature of the production is the choreography. It’s imaginative, fast-past and carried out with expert precision by the cast. There were plenty of foot-tapping wow-moments. The set is simple but effective, with the double decker bus taking centre stage.

It’s the story that is weird. I know that, being written and set in the sixties, it is going to have aged, but there’s quite a few holes to pick in the narrative. For a show that is billed as a feel-good production, some of it is just uncomfortable. Running away from her mother, Barbara disguises herself as a fourteen year old boy and is invited to travel on the bus by the group of twenty-somethings (Wouldn’t happen in 2018!). I was assured during the interval that Barbara isn’t fourteen but it is still a bit weird when Don, believing she is fourteen, steps out of the shower and asks her to hold his towel whilst he tucks in his ‘old chap’. It’s all played for laughs but…..ewww. For a squeaky clean family show, there’s also a surprising amount of crotch tugging and erection jokes.

The audience were familiar with most of the songs (I could tell by the out of tune singing behind me), and the (on-stage) singing was very strong. Again, it’s in terms of story that the show falls flat. Some of the songs make sense, but some are shoehorned in with zero subtlety. For example, when the gang stumble upon a distraught Italian bride who doesn’t speak English, they decide to use the ‘universal language of music’ to find out what her problem is. So they sing ‘Living Doll’. Why?!

If you’re after a fun and fluffy (if utterly confusing) night at the theatre, Summer Holiday is for you.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The summer is over. The jumpers are out and the kettle is working overtime. In school, we’ve re-arranged the classroom, sourced some new equipment and settled into some new routines with a fresh bunch of children. The summer is a distant memory.

I like this time of year. I love any excuse to have a shift around and get the classroom looking fresh, and September is perfect for all of that. We’ve evaluated every aspect of our day and practice, and tweaked anything that didn’t work. We’re jumping on the latest trend of milk as a continuous provision area, which the children can access at any point throughout the day. Of course, it has had its teething problems but on the whole it seems to be working out well. It’s freed up more time for us to use with focus tasks and provision area activities.

Another reason I like September is the chance to meet your new class. So far, they’ve shown themselves to be a well-mannered and fun bunch, and I’m looking to getting stuck into our topic, ‘Famous Faces’, this term. The children shared some fantastic ideas for who we could study (ranging from Neil Armstrong, Ariana Grande and Florence Nightingale…..to the local binman). I’m keen to move away from the traditional figures of study. When I was in primary school I can only remember learning about Florence Nightingale and Emmeline Pankhurst in terms of significant women in history. I want to provide opportunities for the children to learn about a range of famous people, of different genders, race, and abilities. I remember thinking as a child how weird it was that only men seemed to do anything important. I want my class to know that this is absolutely not the case, as I started to learn in secondary school.

Of course September isn’t easy. Our first week back has already been a rollercoaster, from the joy of seeing everyone after the break, to the excitement of the new start, to the hideous anxiety of looking at the calendar for the next term! By Thursday I had managed to convince myself that I can handle the demands the autumn term makes as they arrive, and that over-thinking and over-prepping weeks in advance is unnecessary and draining. Whether or not this continues, we shall see.

What I definitely hope for this year is a year of calm enjoyment. I do believe that whatever I’m feeling effects the children, and as the pressures of the job don’t seem to be easing any time soon, I need to take control of my responses to those pressures and ensure that I approach every challenge with cool composure. I mostly want to show them the spectrum of ability and talent within the world, and have a lot of fun doing it. I’ll get back to you in July!

This summer I tasked myself with a secret mission. Well, several, actually, but first and foremost I wanted to do the impossible and unwind. I’m not very good at relaxing. I used to be, but I seem to have picked up an annoying habit of filling any ‘empty’ time with jobs. (This is not evident in the current state of my flat….or classroom.) I wanted to make the most of my time off, as I know, (and have been reminded many times this summer!) that I am very bloody lucky to have it. Secondly, I wanted to learn to become my own best friend. I can be hard on myself and I’m working on a bit of self-forgiveness and care. On the back of my travels last year, I wanted to continue exploring and take myself off to somewhere I hadn’t been before (…..in the UK. I’m not financially sound enough to stretch to over-seas travel this year).  I spent the weeks building up to 20th July making sure I had a balance of fun, pre-planned activities but also time at home, to recuperate and breathe. I think I’ve been quite successful in having a holiday that has included the compulsory theatre trips, catch ups with friends, lots of yoga, gym visits, handiwork around the flat, a re-write of a story I wrote three years ago, family time, some amazing food and plenty of laughing. Here are some of the things I learnt.

  • I can drive – OK, I may have passed my test five years ago but I’ve not had much practise at long distance driving and the terrifying motorways. I drove to Cambridge and Cardiff this summer and lived to tell the tale.
  • Comparing yourself to others is a no-no – I am guilty of this. It’s a bad habit. I look at Instagram and I can’t help but think ‘God, why can’t I have that?’ (this is usually directed at someone’s abs) but I am working on not doing this. We never put the negatives on social media, so everything is filtered. Also, I’m very fortunate in my own life, so I should take more time to appreciate all the cool things I get to do and the awesome people I spend my time with.
  • It’s OK to remember the past, but more important to focus on the future – Alright, I know, this one is cheese on toast, but it’s still important. Another guilty trait of mine is being over-nostalgic or dwelling over things that have happened ages ago. I’ve definitely learnt this summer that we move away from places and people as we get older, and that’s OK. It’s not necessarily a reason to be sad. It should be a chance to appreciate the good times spent and then move on. Go. Get over it. Run into the next phase of your life. (Parmesan everywhere!).
  • I’m brave – This summer I spent a week in Cambridge alone. It was awesome. I saw lots of sights, went to a hot yoga class, met some interesting people, bought some cool things – totally took myself out of my comfort zone – and thought nothing of it until I got home. That whole trip would not have happened a few years ago. This ticks the ‘unwind’ box too as I spent plenty of time in parks, reading a book in the sunshine. Bliss.
  • Seeing theatre is improved when you go in unprepared – I saw booked a few shows at the last minute this summer, without knowing much about them beforehand. Watching shows first-hand with no prior impressions or knowledge gives for a more goose-bumpy (new word) experience.
  • And finally, time out is important, but it’s also important to get back on the treadmill. This last week has been difficult as I’ve been itching to get back to school. We get a lot of flak for our holidays but, honestly, they are needed. It can get so intense that it’s easy to start doubting yourself. I think most teachers will agree that once they’ve taken themselves out of that pressurised environment, where both adult and children’s emotions are stretched, and taken time to relax, we start to feel that excitement again. I’m really looking forward to going back tomorrow, with a new class, and getting back into the swing of things.

So there we go, self-indulgent, cheesey summer post done. To all the teachers, good luck for tomorrow. I’ve made a habit of reminding myself this time of year that it’s important for the children to learn, but it’s equally (if not more) important that they have fun, happy, meaningful experiences.  Let’s start September with a smile and positivity.

Image result for motown the musical

June 2018. I’m sat in baking hot Trafalgar Square, in a crowd of thousands, watching Motown the Musical perform at West End Live. I like motown music, but, honestly, I wasn’t compelled to see the show until this moment.  Performing a medley of songs from the show, the cast were incredible and the enjoyment from the crowd was palpable.

Flash forward to August 2018 and I’m taking another trip down south to the West End, this time accompanied by two friends. We’d chosen Motown as our show (thanks again to TodayTix, best app ever), deciding that we’d know most of the songs. (We were correct!)

The production wasn’t perfect. It got off to a rocky start with the sound for dialogue being too quiet and the music too loud. It was also quite tricky to grasp what was going on at first, as the time shift between Motown’s 25th anniversary party and Berry Gordy’s early years wasn’t always clear. However, Berry had opened his first studio and Martha and the Vandella’s were sashaying around the stage for a vibrant, goosebump-inducing performance of ‘Dancing in the Street’, Motown really found its soul.

Motown has a very talented ensemble cast who take on many roles throughout the production. Stand out stars have to be Jay Perry (from S Club Juniors, would you believe?) as Berry Gordy and Natalie Kassanga as Diana Ross. Kassanga became Diana Ross and anyone who didn’t know any different would be forgiven for thinking they were watching the real deal.

Motown is essentially the love story between Gordy and Ross, whilst Gordy faces the troubles of building his empire. The show also addresses plenty of politics of the era, and the effect events such as the assassinations of Martin Luther King and President Kennedy had on the artists. The first act builds to a moving performance of ‘What’s going on’ by Carl Spencer (playing Marvin Gaye), as we see the stars reacting to the tragedies of the era.

It’s fun to spot the many famous faces that pop up throughout the story (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye to name a few). Motown puts the music centre stage and the live band and super-skilled artists do a fantastic job of bringing the music to life. Musical highlights include ‘Dancing in the street’, the Jackson five medley and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’.

With energetic versions of familiar songs sung by extremely talented performers, it’s easy to see how Motown has remained so popular over its three year run. Although the story might sink in parts it’s definitely a slow burner, and by the end you’ll be on your feet. It’s a must for any fan of Motown music.

Goosebumps – 3

Stars –  ****

Image result for fame the musical

Perhaps it’s because I missed out on the 80’s phenomenon that was Fame, being a child of the nineties, but I found the 30th anniversary touring production to be a bit of a mixed bag. Set in a New York school of Performing Arts, the story follows a bunch of wannabes as they negotiate the perils of being a Stagey in the 80s.

Led by Mica Paris as the home room teacher Miss Sherman, there’s no doubt about it that Fame does boast a very talented cast. Keith Jack shows off his impressive vocals in his role as serious thespian Nick. Jorgie Porter, of Hollyoaks fame, is able to demonstrate her dance skills in the role of snooty Ballet dancer Iris. Stephanie Rojas delivers a powerful performance as fame-hungry Carmen, and performs the title track with spine-tingling ease. Fame has a very strong ensemble, made up of mesmerising dancers and a cast that perform their own instruments throughout (which always adds a special something to any production).

The problem, for me, lies with the story. Maybe I’m just a bit too close to being a millennial to appreciate it, but parts of the story just didn’t sit right with me. For the first few minutes, when the characters are finding out they’ve been accepted to ‘PA’, I really struggled to piece together what on earth was going on! The first act seemed to be a mash up of events with a scattering of rubbish jokes in between. Then, just a few tracks in, I couldn’t quite believe I was listening to a song about a hard-on.

There are lots of characters who are likeable (hard-on singer not being one of them), such as Serena, the nerdy girl who longs to be with Nick and hapless but talented Schlomo, who is another audience favourite. Particularly heart-breaking is the scene where Schlomo meets Carmen after her return from L.A., which Simon Anthony plays very movingly. I should also mention the ‘Teacher’s argument’ duet, between Miss Sherman and dance teacher Miss Bell which was electric (but I’ve always been a sucker for a good musical argument).

Another big problem lies with the character of Tyrone. Jamal Kane Crawford can certainly move, that’s for sure, but I found it hard to sympathise with Tyrone after he refers to two separate female characters as ‘bitch’. After the second incident, when he has angrily squared up to Miss Sherman and shouted in her face, we are expected to clap along and enjoy a bouncy, jolly tune about how Tyrone wants to make it as a dancer. I didn’t want to cheer for him. I wanted him to sod off.

Whilst it is an enjoyable night out, the story does seem to be a bit of a mess, but it’s more so a fault with the script than the performers. For me, the show does improve as it plays out, with a stronger second act, building to a cracking finale. The whole cast performing ‘Bring on Tomorrow’ is genuinely stirring, especially for those who have ever been part of a theatrical clique. In this production, the curtain call to the famous title track was brilliant. The whole audience were on their feet, it was like being at a concert, and Mica Paris brought the house down. There were plenty of hardcore Fame fans in the audience whose enjoyment was very clear, so perhaps if you’re an avid fan of the film or TV series, this is for you. If you’re not, I’d still recommend going, for a night of live music and dance from a super enthusiastic cast.

Saturday was an important day. My childhood best-friend got married. Not only was it lovely to see so many people beaming with happiness, but it provided a very rare opportunity for me to catch up with some of my old friends.

See, we used to be very close. We were there for each other through every barmy relationship and drama-filled argument during our teens and into our early twenties. But then something happened. Our hub, the heart of our friendship, the place we all met, was closed down and demolished. Since then, due to several unavoidable reasons, we don’t get to see each other much.

Anyway, we talked, we laughed, we danced, and I left feeling wholly satisfied with the reunion. My worry has always been that we would become ‘Online friends’. You know the kind. The kind who you never actually see because they are so conveniently available at the touch of a button. We kept in touch on Whatsapp and Facebook and Instagram, but the time between actually physically seeing each other became longer and longer. As I’ve said before, that is my biggest worry about social media. It is too convenient. More convenient than actually socialising. And it dawned on me that the reason I was so satisfied was because I was actually spending time with these people.

It’s not just friendships I worry about. I’m increasingly scared of the impact my phone is having on my life. It might sound dramatic but quite often I’m hit with this overwhelming feeling of not being in control because, either, my phone is a cacophony of notifications, or I’m checking it every two minutes wondering why I’m not getting any notifications. This was the reason I deactivated my Facebook account and now I worry that that wasn’t enough. I’m finding the urge to check my phone creeping up on me more and more. During a meditation in yoga today, I found myself wondering if I’d had any responses from the texts I’d sent prior to the session. Well….what was the point in meditating?

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of pluses to social media, but for this little guy it’s becoming a bit unbearable. It’s handy to keep in touch with people who live far away, but I think it’s detrimental to relationships with those who are close enough to visit. It can be beneficial in other ways. For example, through Instagram I was able to contact a yoga studio whilst staying in Cambridge last week and I was able to try to classes I’d never have tried at home. So I appreciate the opportunities it can promote. But on the flip side, I’m finding myself scrolling through pictures of various models and actors and yoga practitioners and doing something I am totally against doing – I’m comparing myself to them, and not coming out well on the other side.

I’ve also, on several occasions, found images relating to topics I’ve just been discussing with my friends popping up on my news feed. It could just be coincidence or a harmless bit of customisation but, to this paranoid person, it’s scary. A few weeks ago I was having nightmares about my teeth falling out (I know!) and low and behold, my Instagram feed was full of teeth. Freaky.

I remember feeling the same angst last year. So much so that I bought an alarm clock specifically so I could leave my phone in the living room overnight and not be tempted to look at it first or last thing. A small step, but an important one. It worked for some time but, without even noticing, the phone has crept back into the bedroom. In Matt Haig’s book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, he writes an interesting chapter on how our phones can rule us and have a negative impact on our mental health. What Haig says is highly relatable and my goal for the summer is to follow his advice and step away from the phone.

So, if I haven’t liked a tweet, answered a whatsapp message or double-tapped your Instagram post, please don’t be offended. I’m still here but I’m unplugging myself and holidaying in the real world. Hey, why not join me for a cup of tea instead?

So, one thing that is guaranteed to send me into a hulk-like rampage is a bit of casual everyday sexism.  In either direction, I bloody hate it. Why do we put ourselves into little boxes of who is more capable of doing what based on what’s in our pants? Anyway, just for you lucky, lucky people,  I’ve built up a few little quotes that have made me wince recently, finishing with what we will call ‘the canal calamity’, which tipped me over the edge this week.

  1. ‘Oh, the men are going to sit in the living room’ – OK, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it bugs me. I’ve been at many parties (both family and friends) where, at some point during the evening, we’re expected to split off into our genders. Why? I don’t want to sit with the men! I want to talk to everyone! Is this a party or some sort of cult?
  2. ‘Is that a girl bracelet?’ – No. it’s just a bracelet. From Topman.
  3. ‘Boys, boys, boys’ – anonymous and lovely family member says with mock-disgust to tease my 3 year old male cousin. Yes, she’s joking and there’s certainly no malice, but it happens often and prompts him to retaliate with ‘girls, girls, girls’. I know they’re playing, but I think it sets up an unnecessary divide in his thinking.
  4. ‘Oh and for God’s sake don’t be one of these teachers who let’s boys dress up as girls’. Thanks for that advice, anonymous-family member number 2 but I think I’ll ignore that comment. I was talking about setting up a fancy dress area in my classroom with a variety of costumes for the children to try. I don’t know why a boy wearing a dress seems to be the stuff of nighmares for people of a certain generation, particularly as the person making the comment is never going to step foot in my classroom, so this was pretty enraging. No mention of girls dressing as boys either. I assume that’s allowed but boys lowering themselves into any shade of femininity is clearly too awful.
  5. ‘Girls books here, boys books there’ – Oh, this was a good one. Picture the scene. Summer School, 2016. I was helping out in a rural school, organising activities for a handful of children during the school holidays. Passing through the library one day I was bloody horrified to see someone had taken the trouble of organising ALL of the books into a *shudders* colour co-ordinated and clearly labelled girls and boys shelves. Absolutely hideous. Just let the children choose which books they want to read! Fostering a passion for reading is far more important than boxing them up and controlling what they read. Needless to say, I’ve not darkened their doorway again.
  6. ‘You’ll be alright, Sweetheart. You’ve got a man on board.’ – A bunch of us hired a canal boat for a pleasant trip through Llangollen and over the aqueduct. Captain S, experienced, award winning sailor was in charge of the whole business (as the rest of us were ensuring we drank all of the prosecco, in case the weight of the bottles caused the boat to sink.) At one point, I could hear Captain S having the whole driving process explained to her by a bloke who was walking along side the canal. When I popped my head above deck to see who this mansplainer was, he actually said the above line to Captain S. Little did he know that I didn’t have a clue how to drive the thing, and Captain S was a pro. Yes, I have a penis. Doesn’t mean I can drive a boat.
  7. ‘You’ve got a man with you!’ – To add insult to injury it happened again! We’d just travelled over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and we were mooring up to have some food. Two of my friends (female, for the sake of this story), were hammering in a peg and a ridiculous bloke with a stupid hat and a fag in his mouth sailed past and said ‘You’ve got a man there, ladies!’ in a way that suggested I should be the one using the hammer. I’d already had my go on the other peg! We’re all capable of using a sodding hammer. Look, we can all raise two fingers up to you too. Thankfully, my friends resisted the urge to launch the hammer at his ignorant face.

So that’s the latest rant from RebelliousG. One sure way to fire me up is to assume myself or my friends are incapable (or more capable) of doing something just because of our gender. So stop it.

Image result for torchwood the victorian ageSomething magical has happened. After years in a Torchwood-drought, I have discovered Big Finish. Creating original Torchwood audio-stories, the seven plays I’ve heard so far have been fantastic, and an excellent consolation to the lack of Torchwood on TV. It has been great to welcome Gwen, Ianto, Jack and Rhys back, as well as characters who played a smaller role in the TV series, such as the formidable Yvonne Hartman who makes a gloriously sassy return in Torchwood: One Rule. The story arc of the Conspiracy has proved to be interesting, especially as each episode focuses on the Conspiracy from various viewpoints and in differing depth. One minor thing to complain about is the lack of answers to the Conspiracy plot thread. In a couple of episodes it’s not even mentioned and I’m hoping we get more answers in the next few releases.

My most recent adventure with Big Finish, Torchwood: The Victorian Age, was one of my favourites. The story features Captain Jack Harkness on secondment to Torchwood London (based beneath the Natural History Museum) in the early days of the institute. It’s a real character piece for Jack and enables us an insight into his life before he ran our beloved Cardiff branch. He’s still the same old Jack; battling danger with the usual cheeky swagger and charm. Though there is the small matter of taking care of Queen Victoria that’s making Jack sweat.

After witnessing the outbreak of a deadly creature, Queen Vic invites herself along on the chase and gives Captain Jack a run for his money as she helps to save the world. As a staple part of Torchwood canon, it’s good to have the founder of the institute interact with Jack and have her own adventure. Rowena Cooper gives a top-notch performance as the monarch, delivering her scathing lines with no-nonsense, stiff-upper-lip Britishness that makes you want to cheer ‘Rule Britannia!’.  It’s also nice to see the softer side to Queen Victoria (as we first glimpsed in the Doctor Who episode ‘Tooth and Claw’) as she comforts the mother of an injured girl, and through her growing respect for Captain Jack.

The themes of regret and loss run deeply through the story and there are plenty of references to living and enjoying the time we have left on Earth. Putting an alien that can cause de-ageing at the touch of its hand against a Queen who is frustrated by her age and desperate to rule her beloved country for longer, is an interesting concept. Just like the TV series, Torchwood reminds us that life is for living and Jack continues to emphasise how dangerous his job is. ‘There isn’t always another time,’ he gently warns Queen Victoria, echoing the ethos of the programme.

Victorian Age is classic Torchwood. It my be on a new platform but it’s still the same cheeky, but deadly, Torchwood, full of fan-favourites and bonkers scenarios. Because of course, only Captain Jack Harkness could destroy an alien whilst flirting with it.

 

Image result for everybody's talking about jamieLimited Edition. Thursday night special. I headed down to my favourite local theatre to catch the one-off live screening of Everybody’s talking about Jamie. I knew very little about the show beforehand. I’d seen the cast perform at West End Live and thought they were very good but, whilst I appreciated the music I had heard,  I couldn’t help but feel this show wasn’t going to be my thing. I know. I’m full of shame for judging it but I think it’s important to admit my preconceptions because….I was bloody wrong.

Everybody’s talking about Jamie was fantastic.  A lively, hilarious, sucker-punch of a show that struts its stuff unapologetically for a glorious two and half hours. The script, by Tom Macrae, is one of the best in the musical theatre I have heard. Witty, sharp, full of acerbic lines from Jamie, but never in a way that is too forced. The way the characters interact always feels very natural and nothing ever seems cringey or false. It’s refreshing to see a modern, original musical where the characters don’t use plummy RP or grating false american accents. This is Sheffiled! The setting brings the production down to the earth, but makes it no less fabulous.

John McCrea is an absolute star in the title role, serving up sass, high kicks and prom queen realness. Jamie’s pain at being rejected by his (bastard) father (played by Ken Christiansen) is palpable, and the fall out from his Dad’s criticism is devastating. Christiansen is also brilliant within his role as Jamie’s homophobic, anti-drag father who struggles to accept his son for who he is. We all know a ‘Jamie’s Dad’, unfortunately, and Christiansen portrays the tough role well. Jamie’s mum is played by Josie Walker, who wins the audience over from the moment she sets foot on stage. Anyone who didn’t have a tiny tear (and wish there mother would sing about them like that!), during ‘He’s my boy’ is made of pure stone. Shobna Gulati also adds glamour and hilarity in the role of Jamie’s alternative parental-figure, and his mum’s best friend, Ray. Lucy Shorthouse plays Jamie’s meek ‘fag hag’, Pritti, to perfection and has a lovely singing voice to boot. The whole cast as an ensemble are something special and you can tell they have worked incredibly hard to build this production into the success it has become.

Dan Gillespie Sells has created one of the best musical theatre scores. Interestingly, each song doesn’t sound like it should be from a stage show. Any one of them could be played on the radio and no one would think any different. From the opening, upbeat earworm, ‘Don’t even know it’, to the heart-breaking, ‘He’s my boy’, Gillespie Sells shows he has a fantastic talent and creates a perfect score for the story.

The message of Jamie is so important. Through its story of drag queens, frustrated teachers, loyal mothers and confused teens, it encourages you to be whoever you want to be – whether that’s a flamboyant drag artist or studious medical student. It’s a vibrant, modern musical that I know the sixteen year old me would have loved. Though I had my doubts, Jamie has strutted its way confidently into my top five and taught me a valuable lesson – I have to get myself to London to see it live.

Jamie is a killer production, with mesmerising choreography, some wicked one-liners and a heart-warming story that urges its audience to get out of the darkness, and into the spotlight. Image result for everybody's talking about jamie

Image result for home i'm darling

Home, I’m Darling is a fresh, original play from Laura Wade with all the makings of a classic. Directed by Tamara Harvey, Home, I’m Darling, is funny, thought-provoking and, in parts, quite sinister, and it certainly leaves the audience with plenty to mull over.

Katherine Parkinson plays Judy, a former business woman who has taken voluntary redundancy to spend six months living the life of a fifties housewife. Problems arise when six months turn into three years, and an obsessed Judy is struggling to hide her money woes from her husband, Jonny. As the couple have to choose between living the frugal, fifties life of their dreams or facing their problems in the twenty-first century, they also have to deal with Jonny’s confused feelings for his boss, Alex, and his desperation to get that important promotion. As the plot unfolds, there are plenty of hilarious moments from women uncomfortable in their time. Judy’s mother laments over her own mother’s post-war suspicions, including when a new dairy product came to Britain. (‘My poor mother. Frightened of a yoghurt’). Then, there’s Judy, who has totally lost touch with the present day. (‘People standing in doorways sucking on a biro’.)

Parkinson gives an electric, and poignant, performance as Judy. When we meet her she is the epitome of perfection, serenely cooking breakfast in her gingham palace, before waving her husband off to work with a peck on the cheek. As the story unravels, so does Judy. Near the end of the play she is dishevelled and terrified at the prospect of stepping foot into 2018 (she doesn’t even know what ‘Bake-off’ is!’). Although some might be frustrated at her retreat into this male-dominated world of a fifties housewife, Judy maintains that it is her choice, therefore it is a feminist choice. She is likeable and you can’t help but feel sorry for her as she makes mistake after mistake in a desperate attempt to keep her fantasy alive.

Judy’s friend Fran acts as a mouth-piece for the audience, gently questioning Judy’s choices and even dipping her toe into the fifties pool herself. Fran’s husband Marcus undergoes quite the transformation as he moves from cheeky, ‘huggy’ chappy, to creepy sleezeball. Drysdale gives an excellent performance as Fran, particularly as she is torn between the love for her husband and the allegations set against him. Sian Thomas is striking as Judy’s frustrated, former-hippy mother, Sylvia, who is fraught at the prospect of her daughter living the ‘repressed’ lifestyle she fought against. Sylvia’s monologue about the forgotten drawbacks of the fifties, and the ridiculousness of modern nostalgia from those who weren’t even alive in the era, is particularly fantastic and delivered so passionately and naturally that it is easy for the audience to forget they were watching a scripted performance.

Home, I’m Darling is a rare thing of beauty. There were no stand-out performances, (although Parkinson was, of course, incredible) because every cast member was a joy to watch. Everyone was playing with honesty which led to a very natural and believable production. It’s not just the acting. Everything about it dazzles. Home, I’m Darling opens up many hot topics for debate, from an uncomfortable case of sexual harassment in the workplace, to the reasons behind Judy’s obsessive, almost fetish-like passion for her fifties fantasy, to the grey-area of Jonny’s feelings for Alex.

Home, I’m Darling is a modern think-piece that will leave you chuckling and jiving long after the curtain call.