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June 7, 2017
Shirley Valentine, Belgrade Theatre, June 6-10
It’s now thirty years since Willy Russell introduced us to Shirley Valentine and the opening night audience would agree that this one woman show has certainly stood the test of time.
The first Act takes place in a very authentic 1980s kitchen and the audience hung on to every word from an excellent script delivered energetically by the superb Jodie Prenger.
Shirley is the 42-yea- old Liverpool housewife who leads a humdrum existence just cooking and cleaning for her husband now that the two children have flown the nest. Her annual break is a holiday with the old man in the Isle of Man!
She has no problem with multi-tasking as she cuts chips, fries eggs and lays the table whilst describing her life with wonderful comedic timing and seeking reassurance from the kitchen wall.
Without the husband’s knowledge, Shirley then flies off with her friend for a two-week holiday in Greece where she finds contentment and her true self.
The Greek beach which provides the set for Act 2 is less impressive but the anecdotes are wonderful and a rock has replaced the kitchen wall as her conversational companion.
The audience roared their approval when she described a day on a boat with a local taverna owner which culminated in her ‘discovering the lost Island of Clitoris’.
Things may have changed since the mid 80s – the age of 42 does not sound as old now as it did then and many women still have young families at that age. Girls are now outperforming boys educationally and have a growing presence in high level jobs in most professions.
Perhaps there are a dwindling number of subservient suburban housewives but I’m sure many of the audience will have shared my sadness at the generations of women that never had the opportunity to widen their horizons and fully realise their potential.
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