Shirley Valentine Review – Sheridan Smith Blooms Before Our Eyes

Alone in her kitchen, she talks to the wall, wondering what happened to her youthful dreams and how she got trapped in a marriage from which the initial fun and excitement have long since dried up. When a former schoolmate gives her a ticket for a two-week vacation in Greece, she hesitates, fearful of the marital consequences for her.

But being alone on a sun-drenched beach is so much better than being alone within the pastel walls of a suburban house.

Recounting the incremental moments that free Shirley Valentine from the confines of her “little life,” Smith blossoms before our eyes.

His gift for instant audience communication, combined with flawless comedic timing, extracts all the laughs from Russell’s script that turns marital clichés into verbal gold.

His pronunciation of “taramasalata” is priceless. She hints at the character’s insecurity and can take the audience from laughing to crying and back with ease.

Resisting the urge to bring the play up to date, director Matthew Dunster maintains the attitudes and language of the time that may seem dated to some.

But judging by the vociferous reaction to her remarks, Shirley Valentine still lives on in the hearts of many women.

  • Shirley Valentine, Duke Of York’s Theatre, London, until June 3. Tickets: atgtickets.com

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