The Arts

Canadian Stage Company – Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine

Canadian Stage Company – Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron
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Shirley Valentine
Canadian Stage Company
Written by Willy Russell
Directed by Roy Surette
Starring Nicola Cavendish
At the Bluma Appel Theatre until Apr. 18
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My first thought about seeing Willy Russell’s 1988 play Shirley Valentine yet again left me a little cold. It had a been there, done that feeling for me. I am now about to eat my words.

The superb actor Nicola Cavendish first played Shirley in the play’s Canadian debut at the Vancouver Playhouse in 1990. She has since returned to the role on many occasions. Fully 29 years later, she continues to be an enchanting Shirley, bringing a richness of interpretation that comes from years of experience.

Director Roy Surette has staged this play all over Canada, and his close ties with Cavendish are clear in the nuanced detail of Shirley’s character. In fact, I laughed harder this time around at Russell’s genuinely funny yet poignant monologue

Shirley Valentine is a repressed, north-of-England housewife who breaks free on a Greek vacation, and we cheer with Cavendish all the way.

Shirley Valentine continues at the Bluma Appel Theatre until Apr. 18.

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