The Arts Club Theatre Company

Shirley Valentine
by Willy Russell

Venue: the Stanley Theatre
Dates: 17 July - 24 August 2003

Reviewer: Jane Penistan



Director Roy Surette Set design David Roberts Costume design Philip Clarkson Lighting design Marsha Sibthorpe Stage manager Marion Anderson




Nicola Cavendish as Shirley ValentineMaybe Shirley Valentine has been around for a good few years, but at The Stanley Theatre here and now, it is as bright and sparkling as a new minted coin. Nicola Cavendish keeps Willy Russell's succinctly witty lines dazzling the audience with their insight and humour. As an unappreciated middle-aged housewife, Shirley Valentine dreams of escape from loneliness, monotony and drudgery. When the opportunity comes, will she have the courage to seize it?

Once she has made up her mind, there is no stopping Shirley. Her excitement mounts as she checks all her secretly assembled travel requirements and puts the finishing touches to her already prepared freezer and spotless kitchen. Momentarily, her courage fails her, but the thought of days of sunshine and freedom restore it, and she waits in eager anticipation for the taxi to whisk her away to paradise.

On the beach of a Greek island, basking in the warm sun, she recounts the past few days and their unexpected turns of events, and then the dramatic moment when she decides whether to return to England and home, or to stay reveling in the seductive Aegean island of Mykonos.

Throughout, Nicola Cavendish maintains a steady   


stream of thoughts, ideas and quick changes into the characters with whom she comes in contact . For two hours she keeps the audience aching with laughter, or momentarily sympathetic. What a tour de force!

The suburban Liverpool kitchen set with its glass door and window over the sink are absolutely right in the evening light or the afternoon sunshine of anticipation. The rocks, sand and sea sounds with the hot Aegean sunlight fading into twilight are the romantic setting for the second act. Shirley's clothes are well chosen and suit her different scenes.

The first night audience rose to its collective feet in enthusiastic applause for this stunning production and performance.

Shirley Valentine runs at the Stanley Theatre, 12th and Granville, July 17 - August 24, 2003 at 8.00 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday with matinees at 2.00 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2.00 p.m. Shirley Valentine will be played by Ellie King July 27, August 3, 10, 17, 19, 2003.

For information about special events, ticket prices and reservations call the Box Office 604-687-1644 or visit

2003, Jane Penistan