Left - Glenda Linscott
HIT Productions’ Shirley Valentine is a charming rendition of Willy Russell’s one-woman play, but it lacks the punch and power that Russell’s script so richly deserves.
Playwright Russell provides a wonderful script about a housewife’s journey from isolation and psychological despair to wholeness. As in Educating Rita Russell somehow manages to speak straight to the heart of concerns of women who have lost their sense of self in the midst of family and societal expectations. His are gutsy, powerful stories of transformation.
Shirley Valentine was lauded when it was released as a film in 1989 starring Pauline Collins, following its premiere as a play in 1986. Somehow Russell hit a chord with this quirky English housewife engulfed in a palpable loneliness and yearning to break free of the confines of her domesticity.
Glenda Linscott gives an engaging performance as 42-year-old Shirley Valentine, swamped by the expectations of marriage, motherhood and British suburbia. Linscott tells her story with wit and style, touching on Valentine’s desperation to escape a humdrum existence and make the most of a serendipitous offer of a holiday in Greece, which ultimately transforms her life.
Adam Gardnir has successfully designed an ordinary kitchen set in the first act that provides contrast to his fresh beach scene in the second act. Gardnir’s sets ably support Valentine's journey as she leaves the confines of her kitchen walls for the freedom of the Greek sands and seas.
To many this engaging rendition of Shirley Valentine is likely to be more than enough to provide an evening of entertainment. However, there is a lack of contrast in this production that is a little unsettling. Somehow Valentine’s very real despair does not seem to be fully explored, the full extent of her desperation seems lost in the midst of story telling and as a result the climax at the end of act one loses impact.
Nevertheless the second half of the play is uplifting and ultimately moving as Linscott portrays Valentine’s escape from suburbia. This production holds no surprises for those who have seen the film, but Linscott is a delight when it comes to capturing Valentine’s self-deprecating humour and telling a funny and touching story.
Christine Harris and HIT Productions present
By Willy Russell
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Dates: 31 July 2008 - 02 August 2008
Duration: 2 Hours