Shirley Valentine

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Shirley Valentine
Written byWilly Russell
Date of premiere1986
Place of premiereEveryman Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SubjectA holiday in Greece refreshes an unhappy middle aged Liverpool housewife in more ways than one

Shirley Valentine is a one-character play by Willy Russell.[1][2] It takes the form of a monologue by a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife. It focuses on her life before and after a transforming holiday abroad.

Plot[change | change source]

Shirley finds herself regularly alone and talking to the wall. She prepare an evening meal of egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. Her best friend offers to pay for a trip-for-two to Greece. She leaves a note on the cupboard door in the kitchen. In Greece she rediscovers what she had been missing in England. She is so happy that she decides not to return. She leaves her friend at the airport and goes back to the hotel. She asks for a job.

Productions[change | change source]

Commissioned in 1986, by the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. Noreen Kershaw starred. It was directed by Glen Walford. In 1988 it opened in London's West End at the Vaudeville Theatre. Pauline Collins starred. It was directed by Simon Callow. On 16 February 1989, the Broadway production, with Collins again directed by Callow, opened at the Booth Theatre. It ran for 324 performances. Ellen Burstyn replaced Collins later in the run. Loretta Swit starred in a US national tour in 1995.

From 26 March - 8 May 2010, as part of the Willy Russell season at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Meera Syal played Shirley in the production's first London West End revival. A West End transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production ran at the Trafalgar Studios from 20 July - 30 October 2010. Meera Syal reprised her role as Shirley; this production was adapted and broadcast by BBC Radio Four in 2010 and 2017.[3]

A 30th Anniversary Tour, starring Jodie Prenger ran in the UK from March 2017 to November 2017.

Awards and nominations[change | change source]


Film adaptation[change | change source]

Russell adapted his play for a 1989 film version, directed by Lewis Gilbert, with Collins again playing the title role.[2]

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Russell, Willy (1988). Shirley Valentine and One for the Road. Portsmouth, NH: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-18950-3.

References[change | change source]