SHIRLEY VALENTINE | Theatre | Petrolia, ON | Victoria Playhouse Petrolia

SHIRLEY VALENTINE

By Willy Russell
Starring Nora McLellan

Ever wonder what it would be like to escape your life and explore new horizons?  Shirley is a Liverpool housewife whose kids have left home and she now makes chips and eggs for her husband every night while talking to the wall.  Out of the blue, her best friend offers her a trip to Greece and she secretly packs her bags, heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself very differently.

Audience Advice: This production contains adult themes. 

NORA MCLELLAN – SHIRLEY VALENTINE

Nora is thrilled to be back for her second season at VPP, after appearing in last year’s production of The Birds and the Bees by Mark Crawford. Since then she played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol for Theatre New Brunswick and will next be appearing in Renovations for Six by Norm Foster for The Foster Festival. For her performance in John by Annie Baker for The Company Theatre Nora received a Toronto Theatre Critics Award, a Dora Mavor Moore Award, and a My Entertainment World Award. Nora is one of Canada’s most renowned actresses. She has appeared on stages across Canada including the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival, the Charlottetown Festival, and Arts Club Vancouver. She has appeared on screen in Saving Hope, Orphan Black, Killjoys, X-Files, and Cardinal to name a few. Nora would like to thank David Latham, Heather Davies, Kelly Daniels, Nancy Benjamin, and Edda Sharp for their past work on Shirley Valentine, and David Hogan for letting me continue this beautiful story. She would also like to thank David Rogers for letting her back in the building! A huge shout out the company of VPP. A one person show is actually an ensemble of many players. Thank you!

Shirley Valentine ~ 2018 – Entertain This Thought

Written on May 27th, 2018

Amazing One-Woman Show has Lots of Laughs   

Shirley is trapped in a midlife crisis.  Her husband Joe is predictable and stubborn.  “Marriage is like the Middle East,” she says, “There’s no solution.  You keep your head down and hope the cease-fire holds.”  The Liverpool housewife is so lonely she talks to the wall, and with the wall as her confidant, no subject is off limits.

British playwright Willy Russell has crafted a deliciously funny everywoman story with Shirley Valentine, now on stage at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia.  Any mother who has experienced the empty nest syndrome will identify with Shirley.  The monologue in this one-woman show flows smoothly, her thoughts moving from one hilarious story to the next.

But then there are the poignant moments.  Shirley is longing for her carefree youth, when she was single, when she was still Shirley Valentine – her maiden name.  As the story progresses, we see Shirley grow and regain the confidence she once had.  She learns that she is finally able to look after herself, after a lifetime of putting others first.  

Nora McLellan is absolutely brilliant as Shirley.  You will remember her from last season at VPP where she was so funny as Gail in The Birds and The Bees.  A veteran of the Shaw and Stratford Stages, McLellan has also performed across Canada.  She handles the challenge of being the only character on stage by filling the space.  She is a great storyteller; moving us through the timeline of Shirley’s life seems perfectly natural.

McLellan is amazing in the way she works on the stage, talking to the wall (or the audience), all the while preparing an entire meal:  peeling and chopping potatoes, frying eggs, setting the table, and enjoying her wine.  We learn later that her husband’s distaste for chips and egg being served on steak night is the catalyst prompting her to change her life.

McLellan is also proficient at accents and voices.  Shirley’s Liverpuddlian accent never falters throughout the show.  When she relates things said by her husband Joe, neighbour Jillian, mate Jane, and love interest Kosta, the voices, intonations and accents change delightfully.  Comedy is created in her earnest presentation of each character.

A one-person show takes great energy – the actor has to maintain the audience’s attention for the entire evening.  McLellan holds the audience in her hand, getting every laugh from the hilarious lines, while keeping listeners on edge when her voice drops in the sad and emotion-filled moments.  On opening night, she was interrupted several times by spontaneous applause as the audience enjoyed her humour and comedic timing.

The set is amazingly real.  Shirley’s kitchen is complete with a working “cooker” where her chips sizzle and steam rises from her eggs.  Later, she moves to a beach in Greece, where a rock becomes her confidant replacing her kitchen wall.

Director David Hogan has made the most of a smart script.  He’s created a show for everyone.  While the colourful language and adult content make it perfect for a girls’ night out (and for “girls” read “adult women”).  But if opening night was any indication, men in the audience will fully enjoy it, too.

This show leaves you wondering: What’s the next step for Shirley?  How will things unfold?  Does she reunite with Joe or move on?  McLellan’s portrayal of Shirley is so endearing, you want everything to work out for the best.

McLellan is one of Canada’s best actors.  Don’t miss the opportunity to see her command the stage in this funny, yet thought-provoking, one-woman triumph.

Shirley Valentine continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 10.  Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 or visit www.thevpp.ca for tickets.

Photo: Nora McLellan as Shirley Valentine.  Photo by Diane O’Dell

Shirley Valentine
By Willy Russell
Directed by David Hogan
Performed by Nora McLellan
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
May 22 to June 10, 2018
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Video

An On Stage Look at SHIRLEY VALENTINE

Come into the Rehearsal Hall with David Hogan and Nora McLellan

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