Hey Wall. Guess what I did last night? Well I’ll tell ya anyway. I went to see Shirley Valentine at Milton Keynes Theatre and you know what, wall? Jodie Prenger who plays Shirley was blooomin outstandin!
If you don’t know what I am talking about you soon will as Jodie Prenger takes on the classic Willy Russell story about Shirley Valentine. Now, on its 30th anniversary, Jodie Prenger stars in the first major revival of this national treasure.
Shirley is a Liverpool housewife. Her kids have grown up and left home and her demanding husband expects his tea on the table as he walks in. Shirley has one friend, Jane who has asked her to go to Greece with her for two weeks but Shirley knows she won’t even really consider it. Poor Shirley talking to the wall for company. She tells anyone who will listen about how she is making egg and chips for Joe’s tea as normally he would expect steak but she gave it to a dog that had been brought up vegan after feeling sorry for it. Shirley is the kind of person who is warm and friendly but also says things to outrage people. She tells the audience (and the wall) how she likes to say the pronunciation of clit or is rather than Clit or is. She Purposely let her neighbour think she is having an affair when she bought some new underwear in M&S as the neighbour thought it was for her daughter.
Shirley is a woman of 42 who is wondering what happened to her life. So, she finds herself thinking more and more about the trip to Greece. She dreams of walking along a beach and eating olives. And she doesn’t even like olives. What makes up her mind? Joe throws his egg and chips at her. However, she doesn’t tell him anything about Greece. She secretly packs her bags and just disappears for two weeks.
She heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself very differently. Talking to a rock (instead of a wall) she knows the rock can’t answer. After all she isn’t speaking Greek.
This is a very challenging role as it is a monologue and for two hours you need to keep the audience engaged. Jodie Prenger is outstanding in the role. She is warm and likeable and gives a great Liverpudlian accent as well as doing other voices for those around her. And she cooks eggs on stage. She uses the stage well – walking around and using all the props provided. But best of all she talks to us with humour and a humanistic quality. We like her. We want to listen. We want her to find herself. And we feel pleased she breaks out of the boredom of her life. And I have extra admiration for her to walk around the stage in a swimsuit! What an amazing woman Jodie Prenger is.
Jodie Prenger excels herself as Shirley Valentine and this is a must for anyone over 35 who isn’t living the life they hoped for. I did wonder how many women go home and question their lives and book the next flight to Greece!
Shirley Valentine is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 1st April and then continues its national tour. http://shirley-valentine.com/