Shirley Valentine

Play by Willy Russell. Meet Shirley: a middle-aged Liverpudlian housewife who talks to the wall whilst preparing her husband's egg and chips. She's in a rut. What has happened to her life? When her best friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation for two to Greece she packs her bags, heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself rather differently...

Original West End London Production 1988 at the Vaudeville Theatre

1st West End London Revival 1989 at the Duke of York's Theatre

2nd West End London Revival 2010 at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Trafalgar Studios

Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine was commissioned by Glen Walford for the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool where she was the Artistic Director. It premiered from 13 March to 19 April 1986 in a production featuring Noreen Kershaw, directed by Glen Walford, and designed by Claire Lyth. Two years later it was staged in London starring Pauline Collins who also took the play to Broadway where she won the Tony Award for 'Best Actress in a Play', and again reprised the role on screen for the 1988 film version, winning a BAFTA Award, and gaining an Oscar nomination.

Willy Russell's other London theatre plays include Educating Rita, and the musical Blood Brothers.

Original West End London Production 1988

Previewed 15 January 1988, Opened 21 January 1988, Closed 30 April 1988 at the Vaudeville Theatre

The cast featured Pauline Collins as 'Shirley Valentine'.

Directed by Simon Callow, with designs by Bruno Santini, and lighting by Nick Chelton.

1st West End London Revival 1989

Previewed 19 June 1989, Opened 28 June 1989, Closed 22 June 1991 at the Duke of York's Theatre

The role of 'Shirley Valentine' was played by Hannah Gordon from Monday 19 June 1989 to Saturday 18 November 1989; by Paula Wilcox from Monday 20 November 1989 to Saturday 2 June 1990; by Elizabeth Estensen from Monday 4 June 1990 to Saturday 23 March 1991; by unknown from Monday 25 March 1991 to Wednesday 17 April 1991; and by Kate Fitzgerald from Thursday 18 April 1991 to Saturday 22 June 1991.

Directed by Richard Oliver, with designs by Bruno Santini, and lighting by Leonard Tucker.

2nd West End London Revival 2010

Previewed 26 March 2010, Opened 8 April 2010, Closed 8 May 2010 at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Previewed 20 July 2010, Opened 26 July 2010, Closed 30 October 2010 at the Trafalgar Studio 1 (now Trafalgar Theatre)

A major revival of Willy Russell's play Shirley Valentine in London starring Meera Syal

Presented in repertory with Willy Russell's Educating Rita.

The cast at London's Menier Chocolate Factory and the West End's Trafalgar Studios featured Meera Syal as 'Shirley Valentine'.

Directed by Glen Walford, with designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Paul Anderson, and sound by David Ogilvy.

"Meera Syal tackles Shirley Valentine, going on a great solo journey of self-discovery to Greece and 'the lost isle of Clitoris'. The elegantly structured script is a mixture of escapist fantasy and the purest naturalism, with Syal most at home when she's indulging her talents as a mimic and comedian. But though there's a timeless emotional truth to the writing, the advent of cheap air travel has rendered it a bit of a period piece, an impression reinforced by the 1980s soundtrack punctuating Glen Watford's production." The London Metro

"Shirley Valentine, now 24 years old, is a particularly strong piece, a show that has probably caused more women to up sticks in search of sun, sex and inner fulfilment than all the feminist plays by Ibsen and Shaw put together. The evening is a triumph for Meera Syal, a wonderful Shirley, whose one woman performance is a great feat of soul-baring and mimicry, giving us invisible characters you can almost see - namely her sullen husband, her ghastly daughter and a posh neighbour who talks through her teeth. And, of course, there's the randy, insincere Costas she meets on her Greek island, who can be forgiven everything because 'he kissed my stretch marks'... Perhaps some of the comedy has faded over time. Shirley talking to the kitchen wall, for example, seems a bit twee. But what a role for an actress. Shirley lives and breathes, and her yearning is as real as it ever was. Russell wrote the play ostensibly about sexism, class, poverty of expectation and so on. It seems to have now taken on a new lease of life as a drama about our society's saddest epidemic: loneliness." The Mail on Sunday

Shirley Valentine in London at the Trafalgar Studio 1 previewed from 20 July 2010, opened on 26 July 2010 and closed on 30 October 2010 (in repertory)