Theatre: Shirley Valentine

Just before Easter I managed to catch Meera Syal in the Chocolate Factory's revival of Shirley Valentine, part of its Willy Russell season which also includes Educating Rita. I wasn't particularly in the mood to go and see this play as I was to be packing that evening for a holiday, but there was something about this show that sucks you in and has you hooked.

On one level the 1980s have never been so fashionable. But on another level, when you are watching a show with a set that reminds you of your mother's kitchen, and the first scene involves frying chips and egg (don't go to the theatre on an empty stomach), perhaps it isn't everyone's idea of a great night out. That's a pity as Syal's performance is great and the show is as good as ever (not withstanding the difference of opinions in the audioboos below)...

Willy Russell seems to love the cliches and dramatically obvious but here in this show that is an asset (unlike in Blood Brothers where it is just an embarrassment), particularly when there is the right actor to tell the story. It runs with Educating Rita until 8 May.


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