REVIEWS -"Shirley Valentine"

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willy?"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1995 by Larry Stark

"Shirley Valentine"

Written by Willy Russell
Directed by Mikki Joseph

Shirley Valentine.................Lynne Moulton

Scenic Design & Construction by Rob Rohner
Costumes by Lynne Moulton
Lighting Design by Rob Rohner, Harry Fullerton
Lighting & Sound Techs by Lois Folstein, Mark Curtis
Stage Manager & Production Coordinator Robin Vose

539 Tremont Street, BOSTON
till 13 July

At the beginning of this short three-scene narrative Mrs. Joseph Bradshaw walks into the kitchen of her big empty nest of a house talking to the wall, and to the audience, while she prepares "chips & egg" for her Liverpool husband, even though it's his traditional steak night. Her mate Jane's bought her plane tickets to a fortnight in Greece (cause Jane wouldn't go alone) though she'd never go of course. But she fed the steak to a poor bloodhound that'd never tasted meat because the poor thing's owners tried to raise it a vegetarian. But that's got her wondering, at forty-two, when life became a habit, when love became an excuse instead of an excitement, and exactly when was it she stopped being Shirley Valentine.

It's just these sorts of quirky oddities that nudge this one-woman oddyssey by one little subtle or sudden increment after another to the realization that all life's posibilities that remain un-lived are what drag people down to a boring, unfulfilled ordinariness --- but that life isn't over at forty-two. She is a satirical self-critic with a sharp eye for people around her and a sharp tongue for turning phrases. And her realization by play's end that life likes to be lived is an unmistakeable challenge to the audience to go and do likewise.

Lynne Moulton is very comfortable with the play. She knows every step of the way what kinds of people will laugh at which lines, and when, and she knows how to link each little surprise to what came before and what lurks for her to spring later. She is a little less certain --- less trusting, perhaps --- of the sudden, searing seriousnesses that undergird all that bubbling hilarity. I felt, for instance, that as the lights faded at the end of the boysterous first scene the audience should be caught in a sudden sob of empathetic insight before a roll of well-deserved applause.

Still, Lynne Moulton is an accomplished, experienced actress, and no mere commedienne, and the play will run three weeks. I'd love to be there the night she sorts it all out at last, and her Shirley Valentine begins to live.



THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide