“Hello ... I used to be your wife. But now, I’m Shirley Valentine again. Would you like to join me for a drink?”
Karen Bates, a favourite actor at Westacre Theatre, performs the deeply moving but endlessly funny Willy Russell monologue of Shirley Bradshaw, a middle aged working class housewife in 1980s Liverpool.
She started life so full of promise and passion but over the years her spirit has been gradually eroded. She wonders what happened to her rebellious youth and why she feels stagnant and stuck in a rut. Frequently finding herself at home alone, she talks to the wall while preparing “chips an’ egg” for her “feller’s tea”. All rather disturbing because “on Thursday it has to be mince”. Has Shirley ‘finally gone right round the pipe’?
Westacre Theatre’s production explores Shirley’s internal turmoil when she attempts to break away from her everyday routine where tradition and duty are paramount. But is there a situation when it is right to create happiness for herself despite the potential negative effect on loved ones?
Her longing for a new way of life remains ever present. This comes to a head when Shirley’s best friend Jane wins a competition and generously offers Shirley the chance of a lifetime to join her for a fortnight’s relaxation in Greece – a country that represents an aspirational ideal that Shirley can only access by taking the trip.
Playwright Russell’s comedy artfully underlines his ability to engage with the audience and take it on this touching journey of flight which is fundamental to the huge success of this theatrical masterpiece. This production at Westacre will show how Shirley can overcome all her constraints to make her bid for personal freedom.
When directing Pauline Collins in both the West End and Broadway productions, Simon Callow declared: “I had just never read a one person play so extraordinary. I knew instantly that it was the most wonderful piece of writing.” The play went on to gain wide recognition including two Laurence Olivier awards.
Tickets for the first two shows last week were sold out, however there is availability at the remaining performances for Friday and Saturday (November 21-22), then again on Friday and Saturday, November 27-28 starting at 7.30pm.
You can book the performances online at www.westacretheatre.com and a pre-performance supper by calling 01760 755800.