"WHY doesn’t what I do have value?" booms an exasperated Judy. “Because men don’t do it,” her mother blows her top.

The seemingly lapsed child of a die-hard feminist, Women’s Lib warrior and ex-hippy, Judy (Katherine Parkinson) has chosen to live as a 1950s domestic goddess.

Her home is a veritable colour wheel, plastered with loud prints; she sports frilly petticoats, her hair is set in a weather-proof marcel waves and she spends her days slaving over a stove and polishing every inch of her little nest until her estate agent husband, Johnny (Jo Stone-Fewings) returns from work – to a squeaky clean house, cocktail and pair of slippers strategically arranged by his armchair. “The 1950s didn’t look like this in the 1950s,” her mother (the stellar Susan Brown) later carps, in one of the wittiest, most scalpel-sharp and downright bonkers, monologues ever declaimed – or just about – on stage.

Is Judy happy? She’ll swear to anyone who dares to ask that she is perfectly content and fulfilled.

But the cracks are starting to appear in her “gingham paradise” (as her mother Sylvia puts it). With only Johnny’s meagre salary to keep them afloat (Judy made more than him before taking voluntary redundancy three years ago to become a housewife), money is running out and her 1950s retro-utopia dream is turning into a prison of her own making; not only for her but her husband, who feels increasingly infantilised and, paradoxically, emasculated, by the set-up and his wife’s unrelenting care and devotion.

Writer Laura Wade delights in exposing the absurd contradictions and paradoxes of living out an ersatz 1950s fantasy in the 21st century. In a scene straight out of Happy Days, Judy butters Johnny's toast, packs his lunchbox and waves him off at the door – only to saunter back into the kitchen, pull an Apple Macbook out of the drawer and trawl eBay for vintage frocks and pinnies. Parkinson is simply flawless as the surprisingly relatable Judy, a woman clinging on for dear life to a fantasy that has somehow swallowed her whole and seemingly backfired. Treading the fine line between comedy and pathos with brio, she makes darn sure Judy doesn’t come across as a tragic, pitiable, or delusional, victim.

Judy’s choice is reasoned and born out of a desire to create the loving, idyllic domestic setting she was deprived from, being a child of divorce raised in a feminist commune helmed by “battle-axe” – in her own words – Erika (who, interestingly, has just passed away as the play begins). She is human, may persist on an ill-advised course and make mistake but, like the rest of us, she is – desperately – seeking happiness.

Wade poses difficult questions in Home, I'm Darling, tackling head-on an ‘issue’ that has frustrated, divided and ultimately stumped generations of feminists: what if a woman chooses to depend on her husband financially and wait on him hand and foot. Does she become a second-class citizen? Does domesticity equal oppression? And as Judy asks, does housework not have value? Isn’t it as the word suggest “work”? Food for thought… A pure delight!

Home, I'm Darling runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, April 20