Reviewed by Rosemary Knight
Yesterday evening (19 June 2017), we went to a packed-out Lowry Theatre in Salford, Manchester to watch Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine, starring Jodie Prenger and directed by Glen Walford. We were already familiar with the tale about bored housewife Shirley, having seen the Oscar nominated film starring Pauline Collins many years ago.
The storyline is all about Shirley, who is forty two years old, trapped in a loveless marriage, feeling that life has passed her by. She is a typical bored housewife, making egg and chips for her husband Joe’s tea, while sipping a glass of wine. She talks to the wall as she has no-one else to converse with. Shirley reminisces about her younger self and recalls meeting an old school friend who had made her living as a high-class hooker. She tells tales about her family. One extremely funny story was about her son’s school nativity play when the audience were in stitches laughing.
One of Shirley’s friends impulsively buys them both tickets to travel on holiday to Greece, so Shirley excitedly packs her case and sneaks off, leaving just a note explaining to her husband where she has gone and a freezer full of meals so he won’t be hungry. When they arrive in Greece, Shirley’s friend abandons her for a new boyfriend so Shirley is alone once again, but now she has beautiful scenery and a rock to keep her company. This story is all about a bored, lonely woman who realises that she has so much to live for as she reinvents her life. Jodie Prenger is magnificent as Shirley Valentine and richly deserves her standing ovation at the end of the performance. She comes across as funny, warm and very likeable, making the audience laugh at her observations. It is a remarkable achievement to perform a one person show and Jodie showed what a sublimely talented artist she is.
Although Willy Russell’s story was written thirty years ago, it is still very relevant today. The tale of how a bored housewife can rediscover herself and fall in love with life again is completely uplifting and will resonate with many of the audience.
The show is two hours long but because we were so entertained the time flew by and seemed much shorter. We absolutely loved this performance and so did the rest of the audience.
Tickets cost from £15.50 to £30.50 (booking fees may apply).
Shirley Valentine is at The Lowry in Manchester from 19-24 June 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000