Review: Shirley Valentine - poignant, hilarious, life-affirming

Review: Shirley Valentine – poignant, hilarious, life-affirming

It may be an over-used term, but Jodie Prenger is surely on the way to becoming a national treasure.

She’s still only 38, but seems to have been a fixture on TV screens, the West End stage, and as a radio presenter forever.

Jodie is a always engaging, and in the title role of Shirley Valentine at Cardiff’s New Theatre this week, she is totally captivating – as the frustrated Liverpool housewife of the first act or the voluptuous liberated beach babe of the second.

On opening night this evening [Monday 27 June], you couldn’t take your eyes off her for a moment – whether she was frying eggs or appying sun lotion – as she performed a two-hour monologue, which was at times poignant, often hilarious, and ultimately life-affirming.

While Jodie’s Scouse accent didn’t always ring true for me, she convincingly and amusingly impersonated a whole array of other characters – from rebellious kids and nosy neighbours at home to miserable tourists and her smooth-talking ‘Christopher Columbus’ on holiday – as she recounted her story of self-discovery.

Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine premiered more than 30 years ago and is set in a world without social media and ubiquitous cell phones; but the recognition of needing to break free from the weight of mundanity and take a leap into the unknown will still strike a chord with audiences today.

Directed by Glen Walford, Shirley Valentine plays at the New Theatre, every evening this week until Saturday 1 July 2017 at 7.30pm, plus Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm.  Tickets are from £10.50 – £31.00*. For further details and to book tickets visit newtheatrecardiff.co.uk or call the Box Office on (029) 2087 8889.  *Bookings are subject to a Ticketing Service Charge (exemptions apply).

Review by Andrew Weltch