Shirley Valentine is a one-woman comedy about a downtrodden Liverpudlian housewife, who just wishes for something more. She is admittedly unhappy with her life, but at 42 has seemingly decided that it is too late for a change. The show is wonderfully written by Willy Russell, who is perhaps best known for writing the musical theatre classic Blood Brothers.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t love Sheridan Smith, and with her casting tickets understandably sold like hot cakes (or maybe even Egg & Chips). She most certainly doesn’t disappoint in this role. Her universal likability shines through stronger than ever, with the audience in rapturous applause the moment she took to the Duke of York’s stage. Smith is in fact the exact same age as the character is in the play. This alone shows how much attitudes have changed, as she is Smith is more than in her prime with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Her effortless embodiment of Shirley is entirely convincing and her comic timing impeccable. Whilst the set was minimal, it worked well. Anything more elaborate would have been unnecessary and potentially distracting from Smiths captivating performance.
The fact that this wasn’t written by a 40-something female is testament to Willy Russell’s compelling and convincing writing. It could be argued that the target audience for this show would be reminiscent of the character herself. However, the writing has such depth and nuance that makes it relatable to almost anyone. It manages to stay humorous whilst remaining real,
which is testament not only to the writing but Smith’s dazzling performance.
This classic feels as relevant today as ever, even with the (now) retro throwbacks littered throughout the 2 hour performance. Smith channels both the light and dark of Shirley to perfection in this revived classic.
Shirley Valentine is on at Duke of York's Theatre until 03/06/2023. See below for booking information:
Photo Credit: Helen Murray
Note: My ticket was bought. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.