7-11 March 2017
Reviewed by Catherine Brown
Shirley Valentine is a one-woman play starring Jodie Prenger, which focuses on the theme of ‘life is for living’. Previously adapted as a film starring Pauline Collins, the stage show is making a come-back after 30 years and is currently playing at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham.
Prenger is well known for being cast as Nancy in Oliver! during Andrew Lloyd Webber’s television programme ‘I’d do Anything’. She takes on the role of Shirley Valentine, a down trodden housewife fed up with the mundane routine of married life. Prenger performs the monologue brilliantly and had the audience laughing along with her character who is reminiscing about dramas with friends and family.
Act 1 is set in Shirley’s kitchen where she is preparing dinner for her ungrateful husband. Tempted by the offer of a 2 week holiday in Greece with her friend Jane, Shirley debates the consequences of making her escape. She gets mixed reactions from her daughter and neighbour but decides to take a risk and packs her bags with her husband blissfully unaware.
In the second half of the show Shirley has made it to sunny Greece. However she is abandoned by Jane, requiring her to get over her insecurities and go it alone. Shirley begins to enjoy her new found independence and soon finds herself relaxing with one local waiter in particular. She falls in love with the idea of living life as she wants to and questions who will actually be missing her at home. When her husband decides he has had enough and boards a plane to fetch her home, Shirley has to decide which life she wants to lead.
I found the show thoroughly entertaining and quite thought provoking. The message about making sure we don’t die before we are dead was delivered by Prenger with humour and conviction.
The New Alexandra Theatre is in a central location in Birmingham with easy access and plenty of nearby car parks. The staff were very welcoming and there was a wide selection of drinks and snacks on offer. One perk is the ability to use an app on your phone to order these before the interval.
Tickets cost from £15 to £44 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Shirley Valentine is at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham until 11 March 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS