Shirley Valentine – Jodie Prenger
Venue: Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Date: Wednesday 25th October 2017
Shirley Valentine is a play which had then been adapted to the much loved 1989 film of the same name. This UK tour is a 30th anniversary edition of the play, which was last performed in the West End in 2010. I will admit that I was very naive as I went to the play as I didn’t realise it was a one character show, I think that was due to seeing the film many years ago now.
The story takes place in Liverpool when a middle-aged, 42-year-old woman cannot cope with what her life has become and how it all quickly changes when she goes on a life changing holiday to Greece leaving her husband behind for two weeks. Although doesn’t actually tell him that she was going, just leaving a note. She actually does talk to the wall a lot, which is rather amusing and plays on the saying about I might as well talk to the wall considering it listens better. It is very impressive to listen to the story and the impressions of what other people have said, I imagine that’s is what we actually sound like when telling someone a story about someone else and putting on a slightly different voice. Having two grown up children who had moved out made Shirley realise just how unhappy she was in her marriage with Joe sick of making egg and chips for his tea, but oh that steak on a Thursday. Meeting someone from school really helped to set things in motion.
The story is both funny and amusing yet mixing in some heartbreaking thoughts but then leading to heartwarming thoughts. No one ever wants to believe that their life is well over and that they have to settle for what they are left with. I think that is why this is an important play to keep going to let everyone know you can always make changes for the better. Certainly something that is more than shown throughout this powerful play.
Obviously a one woman play means that the performance has to be outstanding and that is exactly what Jodie Prenger is, she blows you away from start to finish and owns every single part of the stage. I have always been a fan of Prenger since the ‘I Do Anything’ tv series and seen her in musicals a few times over the years, but this is a whole different level. She really is just brilliant! Having no one else to bounce off and react too must be such a difficult task, still managing to work around the stage and pull off an acting masterclass.
The play is only 1 hour and 40 minutes long split with a 20 minute interval. The first half spent in her kitchen at home in Liverpool and the second half in Greece and finding herself again. Becoming a different person to who she once was, so a funny and inspiring play which tells you to always do what is best for you no matter what your age or situation is.