The rebel, the fun girl, the girl who would do it all. It is on at the Salisbury Playhouse until the 7th March. Instantly, we were transported to a beautiful Greek setting. Even though she moans about her husband and kids, she seems in every sense the kind of person who is more than able to cope with what life could throw at her. For this is a very sad piece too at times, marking Shirley's initial descent from a spunky, undervalued schoolgirl to bullied housewife. But Tara Lynne O'Neill is luminous in the title role. ', I began to wonder what 'this' actually was. The ticket is looked at longingly and often. Her children are grown up and gone and she is in her 40’s. Comedy timing, her fabulous accent and exaggerated facial expressions swept the audience up in a compelling performance. This is a sad acknowledgement. She brought her to life. However, I wondered why a woman with that kind of personality couldn't deal with her situation. sign, Get the day's headlines delivered directly to your inbox, A new production of Shirley Valentine opened at Belfast's Lyric Theatre, Review: Genuinely scary, Burnt Out is an incredible piece of audio theatre, Arts Q&A: Philippa O’Hara on Queen, Lady Gaga and Jaws being 'the perfect film', Derry actress Nicky Harley wears her Shakespeare hath in online Belfast festival, 100 jobs under threat as iconic Duke of York bar set to stay shut, Trump leaves hospital after three nights of treatment, Marie Louise McConville: Unexpected broodiness has me thinking about a family expansion, Staycation: Kayaking and walking offer a fresh perspective on the Causeway Coast, Ryanair to operate just two winter routes from Belfast International Airport, Wetherspoon boss cannot 'rule out' job cuts as firm makes first loss since 1984, Mary McAleese: I wasn't trying to turn loyalists into nationalists; I wanted to create a culture of good neighbourliness, Cult Movie: The Man Who Laughs influenced everything from Frankenstein to Batman, Patrick Murphy: Flags and political horse trading have proved particularly useless in tackling Covid-19, Newton Emerson: What matters is that the executive managed to reach a deal on restrictions, despite their differences, Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive for coronavirus, Man from Northern Ireland rang Ibrox as Celtic were losing to Rangers to report a bomb, court hears. This, the Lancashire-born actress told the audience after the performance, makes the play “ours” – and it works. You won’t be disappointed. I haven't seen the play, but I have a feeling the reports may be right; this is the kind of story that might work as a tour-de-force, with one actor populating the stage with her imagination, as Collins is said to do. That leaves Shirley in a humdrum existence cooking and cleaning for her husband, Joe, who can only relate to a life of regimented predictability. This is a stunning performance by Clare Sweeney and the standing ovation says it all. When things go wrong, there's no-one to hide behind and nobody else to take the blame. So, when a friend offers to take Shirley off to Greece for a two week holiday, she leaps at the chance even though she knows Joe will be furious. Find out more about me, and my writing HERE. Shirley symbolically pushed over the walls of her perfect kitchen at the end of act one, and now it's the Aegean Sea all the way. A short interval and we were back. Subscribe to our newsletter. 'Shirley Valentine' is great fun with some moving moments, has a good story to tell, and tells that story well thanks to a great Willy Russell script. The second half contains some genuinely great passages.