Shirley Valentine is a one-character play by Willy Russell. Taking 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.
In this stage play, the heroine in this actor’s tour-de-force is an ordinary middle class English housewife. As she prepares chips and egg for dinner, she ruminates on her life and tells the wall about her husband, her children, her past, and an invitation from a girlfriend to join her on holiday in Greece to search for romance and adventure.
Ultimately, Shirley does escape to Greece, has an “adventure” with a local fisherman and decides to stay.
Shirley Valentine was written in the Eighties, but the fundamental questions remain; “Am I getting enough out of life. What else is there?” You can ask these questions in any period so the play remains current for todays audiences.
Shirley Valentine, which became a film in 1989 starring Pauline Collins, is a married woman whose life’s purpose is to make sure her husband is fed and contented. Her dreams are locked away and she is judged not by her intellect or the depth of her imagination, but how well she manages to fry an egg – or remember that husband has steak on a Tuesday.
Shirley is a philosopher. She has some beautiful ideas about life. She’s a great observer of people and humanity. Talking to the wall is her therapy.
Shirley Valentine is about connection. It’s not about drinking wine on a beach. It’s about being listened to. It’s about being in the moment. It’s about not allowing the flame to go out.”