Written in 1986 by English playwright Willy Russell, this monologue delivered by the 42-year-old Shirley Valentine is a cri de coeur from a woman who realises her life has been circumscribed by housework, an ungrateful and boorish husband and an unappreciative daughter.
Her silent confessor, the wall of her kitchen, listens patiently as she explains how, on a recent occasion, when her husband didn’t see his usual Thursday mince on his plate the moment he walked in the door after work, he threw the replacement dish of eggs and chips across the table and onto her lap.
Poor Shirley feels that her life is doomed to a continuing round of such events until her friend gives her a free ticket to travel to Greece with her, and her decision to go is the beginning of Shirley’s emotional renaissance.
Sharon Millerchip is a fabulous Shirley, investing her character’s kitchen table philosophy with great humour and Platonic wisdom. Shirley speaks to the wall, and later the stones in Greece, answering with laugh out loud humour her own profound questions about life, the chief one being, “Why is it there’s all this unused life?”, a question we might all ask ourselves.
Millerchip is a truly engaging Shirley, who had the audience dancing on their toes and hooting with delight at the end of opening night.
Go see this terrific production directed to perfect pitch by Mark Kilmurry. You will not be disappointed, I assure you!
This is yet another gem from the Ensemble, 60 years young this year and going strong.
Until Jun 9. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall St, Kirribilli. $35-$73+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.ensemble.com.au
Reviewed by Irina Dunn