A HOUSE fills the stage: a giant, two-storey doll’s house with a lemon-yellow kitchen, a mint green sitting room and a bathroom decorated with flamingos.

Around this soap-ad seeming, cartoon-50s setting, a woman in a big floral skirt and a frilly pinnie briskly pirouettes around the kitchen preparing breakfast for her husband before he dons hat and coat and heads for work. They are so perfect – so happy! A dream of a lost world, where men were men and women were grateful.

Until the housewife briefly takes a laptop from a kitchen drawer and we realise this is not the 1950s at all. In fact what is going on?

This is the opening of the West End transfer of the National Theatre and Theatr Clwyd’s critically acclaimed co-production of Home, I’m Darling, written by Laura Wade. Starring Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans) as Judy, and Susan Brown (Game of Thrones, The Iron Lady) as her mother Sylvia, this is the story of a couple whose love of all things vintage extends to obsessively recreating a perfect 1950s household in the 21st century, complete with stay-at-home housewife.

Parkinson as brilliant as Judy, communicating in so many subtle ways just how brittle and precarious her fantasy of 50s bliss turns out to be. In a uniformly strong cast, Brown rallies the audience in her impatient tirade against the fantasy of a 50s utopia – from someone who had lived through it.

Double Olivier Award nominee Anna Fleischle also deserves a mention for the brilliant set and costumes.

Occasionally the play seems too much like a vehicle for a discussion about feminism – when a #metoo moment seems shoe-horned in – but it is otherwise a funny, touching and sometimes painful reminder of the ways we all seek to create a happy life – and the ongoing debate about who does the housework.

A small number of standby tickets will go on sale at 12 noon daily during the week of the Bath run. To book, call the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk

Sarah Singleton