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July 24th - July 29th
“Why……why do y’ get…….all this life, when it can’t be used? Why……why do y’ get……all these….feelin’s an’ dreams an’ hopes if they can’t ever be used?”
Willy Russell’s heart-warming one-woman comedy play premiered in 1986 and took the world by storm. Now, on its 30th anniversary, Jodie Prenger (Calamity Jane; One Man, Two Guvnors) stars in the first major revival of this national treasure.
Shirley is a Liverpudlian housewife. Her kids have left home and she makes chips and egg for her husband while talking to the wall. Where has her life disappeared to?
Out of the blue, her best friend offers her a trip to Greece for two weeks and she secretly packs her bags. She heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself very differently.
“I was no longer Shirley the neighbour, Shirley the middle-aged mother, Shirley Bradshaw. I had become Shirley the Sensational, Shirley the Brave, Shirley Valentine.”
“The funniest and most heart-warming play.” Daily Mirror
★★★★★ “Behind all the laughs, and there are plenty, there is a brilliantly crafted, moving, very human play.” Behind the Arras
“Jodie Prenger’s engagement with the audience is second to none” London News Online
“Jodie Prenger brings Shirley to life with her own unique brilliance. Shirley Valentine is charming, hysterical and truly heart-warming and this 30th Anniversary tour is a triumph.” Theatress.com
“It is a joy to re-encounter Shirley Valentine. As our Milandra would put it: mega-brill; double fab” Daily Telegraph
“At the end I looked at my mum and she had tears in her eyes. Every mum of a certain age in that audience thought it had been written about her.” The Guardian
“Winningly captivating.” The Independent
“And with Russell’s free-flowing humour what she says is utterly compelling – like overhearing a fascinating conversation on the top of a bus.” The Stage
“The play is at times funny, at others desolatingly sad, and at the end it emerges as a moving celebration of the independence of the human spirit.” The Telegraph
“It’s a wonderful, thought provoking play that is so much more than just a comedy” JugglingOnRollerSkates.com
Suitable for 14+
Ticket price includes a £1 contribution to our heritage fund.
What a fabulous funny show! We thoroughly enjoyed it, Jodie Prenger was excellent throughout, and it cant be easy with it being a one-woman show. Superb, thank you Jodie and thank you Malvern!
For most people, Shirley Valentine is likely to be a character belonging firmly to Pauline Collins, who made the part her own in the film version where her Greek suitor was Tom Conti and introducing other characters and therefore other actors such as Julia McKenzie, Alison Steadman, Joanna Lumley and Bernard Hill. However, Willy Russell's play - his seventh - is a one-woman affair, originally starring Noreen Kershaw and subsequently Pauline Collins when it opened in London. And it is this version which is currently on tour, with the frustrated housewife being played this time by Jodie Prenger.
Russell wrote this play following the massive success that he had achieved with Educating Rita and Blood Brothers, all three plays involving strong female leads who are, in their own way, nothing extraordinary, just women trying to cope with their lot in life and dreaming of, if not achieving, a better one.
The first half of the play is set in Shirley Bradshaw's kitchen (appropriately Valentine is her maiden name) preparing egg and chips (literally - it smells wonderful!) for her husband whilst talking to her only companion, the wall. At the same time as trying to decide how to tell her husband that it will not be the steak and chips he is expecting, she also is pondering how to tell him that she intends to go off on a two week holiday to Greece with her mate Jane, although that is still undecided. Whilst preparing the potatoes for the chips, she is regaling us with stories about her children and how things used to be with her husband Joe. This chatty conversational style gives Jodie Prenger the perfect opportunity to make that conversation totally inclusive as far as the audience is concerned as the many comments, glances and asides to the patrons bring it home that she is talking to them. Not that she has anyone else to talk to, of course - apart from the wall. And she does this whilst all the time wandering around her kitchen doing all the things which any housewife will recognise and do themselves.
The second half has a complete change of set - and mood. Her husband's hostile response to the egg and chips was the deciding factor in whether she stayed or left. And now she is doing what she wanted - sitting with a glass of wine at a beach-side table in Greece. But is she happy? Apparently not, as she is again alone as her companion Jane has found a man... And the wall of her home has become a large rock on the beach, even after the intervention and attention of Costas, the waiter, who promises to help her fulfil her dream. This is where Prenger comes into her own, as not only is she Shirley Valentine, she is also the voice of Kostas, promising to take her out on his boat and mistaking her friend Jane for the cleaning lady. Very funny lines beautifully delivered in a manly Greek accent! Not surprising that the audience - which on opening night included actor Timothy West - was in stiches and gave her a standing ovation at the end.
To hold the audience's attention throughout the play (whilst at the same time cooking dinner) is no mean feat and whilst the script is obviously instrumental in this, so too is the actor performing the words on the page and turning them into something which we can all identify with - a conversation with an "ordinary" woman who, at 42 and with a family, is trying to work where to go next. Her holiday is an escape, a fling, a time to reflect and whilst it turns out to be longer than she expected, it is not a complete break from reality as the final scene suggests that a reconciliation is on the cards…
This is a very impressive production and Prenger commands attention from the moment she steps onto the stage, whether she is chatting at home or on holiday - an apparently simple concept faultlessly and convincingly carried out by a single person.
What an entertaining performance. Jodie Prenger should be very proud of herself. Not only did she cook chips, two eggs with two rounds bread and butter, but delivered nearly two hours of funny and most heart warming dialogue. Brilliant.
Excellent show - Jodie Prenger is so engaging as Shirley, capturing all the wit, warmth and frustration and taking you with her every step of the way. Jodie has that quality to connect with the audience and make you root for her on the character's journey. Excellent and moving play by Willy Russell, uplifting and human performance by Jodie, relatively simple but evocative set designs - well worth a night out to see the show.
Willy Russell's play "Shirley Valentine" showing at Malvern Festival Theatre is an absolute delight. Starring Jodie Prenger this one woman show is must see as she holds the audience on every word and every belly laugh. I will remember a wonderful evening every time I have "...chips and egg..." or talk to my kitchen wall.
A standing ovation says it all! Sad and funny, inducing tears and laughter - an amazing performance and beautiful set, (that got applause itself). A play that speaks to women - maybe men should listen, and laugh, too!
I would like to give ten stars as this was such a fabulous show and Jodie was fantastic. I came last night with six lady friends of mine and we had such a laugh. Jodie brought it all back and it was like it was back in the day when we all remembered the original film. Everyone should come and see this show it Is a real tonic.Well done Jodie and thank you. You are a true Shirley Valentine.
Fantastic show - Jodie Prenger was someone special her performance was spellbinding . A moving, but very funny play by Willy Russell. Worth every penny a show not to be missed.
What a fantastic show. Jodie Prenger held the audience from start to finish. Amazing comic timing and charisma. In addition we booked the celebration package which was superb value. Excellent food with great service.
The performance by Jodie Prenger was on of the most exciting, outstanding, exhilerating performances I have seen in a long time. Her ability to hold her audience without hesitation, in a one woman show was inspiring. I was totally mesmorised throughout. This production deserves an award! Yes, it was even better than going to the RSC! Well done Malvern Theatres, for including this outstanding show in your programme. A brilliant choice!