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REVIEW: Shirley Valentine

Updated: Jun 25

Shirley Valentine review. Sally Reid in Shirley Valentine.

Shirley Valentine

A play by Willy Russell

A Pitlochry Festival Theatre Production

Directed by Elizabeth Newman

12 June 2024


Sally Reid is fearless!

Standing in her kitchen, peeling potatoes to make her husbands tea, middle-aged housewife Shirley wonders just how she got there. Unappreciated, bored and so lonely that she speaks to the wall, Shirley's domestic life is not what she imagined it would be. When did she lose herself? What happened to fun, bubbly Shirley Valentine? And what will she do when she gets the opportunity to run off to Greece with a friend?

I went into this play blind: I've never seen the iconic film and I purposefully didn't read into the plot beforehand. But it's a beautiful study of what happens when life becomes unsatisfying and a decision needs to be made. To stay safe but unfulfilled, or to take a risk? The protagonist may be a 42 year old Liverpudlian woman, but her plight is surely relatable to many. Shirley is a fantastic character and through Sally Reid she becomes a warm and delightful storyteller.

Sally Reid in Shirley Valentine

This play will not be for everyone: it is a monologue after all - one person talking for 2 hours. But unlike other monologue plays I've seen where my mind starts to drift and I begin compiling my shopping list, Sally Reid kept me completely engrossed for the entire run time. I felt that Shirley was speaking to me directly; like we were the only people in the room and she was telling me a scandalous and hilarious story over a glass of wine like good friends do. So sharp is the writing by Willy Russell, the direction from Elizabeth Newman and the performance by Sally Reid that I was captivated by Shirley's every word.

Shirley is always doing something: preparing dinner for her husband, setting the table, getting items from the fridge. She moves across the stage constantly and so it never feels like a sermon, more like we've been invited into her life and are eavesdropping on her conversation with the wall. Ultimately though Sally Reid is completely alone on that stage for over 2 hours (there is an interval). How terrifying that must be. I am in awe of anyone who remembers their lines on a stage, but Reid has more to contend with than most. She speaks every word, acts every line with a genuinely excellent Liverpudlian accent. She never once faltered - and if she did, I didn't notice and it didn't matter.

Reid gives such a relaxed but confident performance that it's impossible not to like Shirley. She's discontent yet funny, and so sympathetic that the audience may find themselves hoping that she does cheat on her husband!

Shirley Valentine is an unconventional romantic comedy with clever writing and a remarkable performance at its core: Sally Reid is fearless in her delivery and fantastic in this role.

Go meet Shirley (and Sally) in Edinburgh or Pitlochry this summer - much like chips and egg, they're an excellent pair.


Shirley Valentine plays at The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

12th - 29th June 2024

Sally Reid in Shirley Valentine

and will be returning to Pitlochry Festival Theatre

4th July - 28 September 2024

📸 Production photos: TBC


Shirley Valentine - CAST


Shirley Valentine: Sally Reid


Shirley Valentine review, A play by Willy Russell, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Sally Reid, Pitlochry Festival Theatre Production.

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🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Neither the venue nor show has a say in what I write. I'm completely independent and invites have no impact on my analysis or star ratings.

Lisa in the Theatre, Scottish Theatre, UK theatre blogger, reviewer, critic


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