Shirley Valentine

Funny and Touching Mid-Life Crisis

Shirley is trapped in a midlife crisis.  Her husband Joe is predictable and stubborn.  “Marriage is like the Middle East,” she says, “There’s no solution.  You keep your head down and hope the cease-fire holds.”  The Liverpool housewife is so lonely she talks to the wall, and with the wall as her confidant, no subject is off limits. Yes, there are some racy bits.

British playwright Willy Russell has crafted a deliciously funny everywoman story with Shirley Valentine, now on stage at the Globus Theatre in the Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon.  Any mother who has experienced the empty nest syndrome will identify with Shirley.  The monologue in this one-woman show flows smoothly, her thoughts moving from one hilarious story to the next.

But then there are the poignant moments.  Shirley is longing for her carefree youth, when she was single, when she was still Shirley Valentine – her maiden name.  As the story progresses, we see Shirley grow and regain the confidence she once had.  She learns that she is finally able to look after herself, after a lifetime of putting others – her husband, daughter and son – first.  

Sarah Quick, artistic director at the Globus Theatre, has taken on this challenging role.  As the only character on stage, she is tasked with memorizing a huge script, which she handles perfectly.  Quick takes us on a roller-coaster of emotions, as the character recounts all the good times and the bad. 

Quick is hard at work on the stage, talking to the wall (or the audience), all the while preparing an entire meal:  peeling and chopping potatoes, frying eggs, setting the table, and enjoying her wine.  We learn later that her husband’s distaste for chips and egg being served on steak night is the catalyst prompting her to change her life.

So Shirley heads off to a holiday in Greece, where she switches from talking to the kitchen wall, to talking to a rock on the beach.  Quick is excellent with the various voices in the tales Shirley relates.  Her Liverpuddlian accent never falters throughout the show.  When she relates things said by her husband Joe, neighbour Jillian, old friend Marjorie, mate Jane, and love interest Kosta, the voices, intonations and accents, as well as her facial expressions, change delightfully.  Comedy is created in her earnest presentation of each character.

While the colourful language and adult content make it perfect for a girls’ night out (and for “girls” read “adult women”).  But if opening night was any indication, men in the audience will enjoy it, too.

In fact, the Globus Theatre is absolutely perfect for a friends’ night out.  If everyone is double vaxxed and appropriately masked, the theatre offers an excellent “distanced” evening.  First dinner is served – you have your choice of three delicious appetizers, three different main courses, and three desserts.  I loved the thick mushroom soup, a delicious lamb shank with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans, and for dessert I opted for the rich sticky toffee pudding – again.  Yummm.

At the end of the evening, this show leaves you wondering: What’s the next step for Shirley?  How will things unfold?  Does she reunite with Joe or move on?  Quick’s portrayal of Shirley is so endearing, you want everything to work out for the best.

Shirley Valentine continues at the Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn near Bobcaygeon, until August 28.
(***Additional performances due to popular demand on September 9, 10, 11.)   Tickets available by calling the Box Office at 705-738-2037 or 1-800-304-7897 or visit https://www.lakeviewartsbarn.com/globus-current-season

Photo: Sarah Quick as Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine
By Willy Russell
Directed by James Barrett
Performed by Sarah Quick
Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon
August 11 to 28, 2021 ***Additional performances due to popular demand on September 9, 10, 11.
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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