Hamilton Gardens, Medici Court, Hamilton

14/02/2018 - 17/02/2018

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2018

Production Details


Shirley finds herself, once again, alone in her kitchen and talking to the wall whilst preparing the evening meal of chips and eggs. She ponders what happened to the dreams of her youth and how she ended up in this unfulfilling existence.

When her best friend shouts her a trip-for-two to Greece, she nervously packs her bags and leaves a note on a kitchen cupboard door. As Shirley heads off for a fortnight of sun and sand, will she rediscover the girl inside she feels is lost forever? Shirley the Magnicent; Shirley the Brave… Shirley Valentine.

A community theatre production licensed by The Play Bureau.

Medici Court   
Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 Feb 2018
6:00 pm

ADMISSION (Booking fees apply)

$25 General Admission
$22 Concession (Student, 65+)
$22 Early Bird (before 22 Dec) 

Theatre ,

Themes and nuances beautifully developed beyond comedy

Review by Gail Pittaway 16th Feb 2018

With an opening night on Valentine’s Day, Willy Russell’s classic solo play from the 1980s about a woman learning to love herself is given the kiss of life in this joyous performance by Sarah Nathan. Too long absent from the Hamilton stage, Nathan’s warmth and energy bring Shirley’s Liverpudlian one-liners (“Marriage is like the Middle East… there’s no solution”) to a delighted audience, under an Aegean-blue sky; but for only a few more late summer evenings.

Shirley Bradshaw, née Valentine, is a lonely housewife whose main activities seem to be cooking for Joe, her routine-driven husband, and shopping for food to put on the table for the menus and times he prescribes. No wonder she has taken to drink (wine, of which Joe is suspicious). In a convenient theatrical pun, Russell has her talking to the kitchen wall, as a means of processing the contradictions and disappointments of her life and the quirks and foibles of neighbours and friends.

When her good friend Janet, a newly converted feminist, offers her a ticket for a two week holiday in Greece, Shirley surprises herself by being tempted to drink wine from ”where the grapes were grown”. Act One has her gradually talking herself into the adventure, Act Two has her on the eve of departure, not having told Joe but, as she has filled the freezer with food and her mother will be coming around to defrost and serve meals, she suspects he won’t notice she has gone. Act Three is set in Greece, on a beach, where she has made a new inanimate friend and considerably expanded her world experience.

Shirley’s skills of mimicry are brilliantly delivered through Nathan’s renditions of the schoolgirl peer, posh Margaret whose mother had spent a fortune on elocution lessons, son Brian, the wanna-be-busker poet, the lugubrious Joe and the whining tourists she encounters to name only a few. All are hilariously captured with accompanying stance, gesture and expression, too many too fast to even attempt to record.

With Nick Wilkinson’s sure direction, Nathan moves through the deceptively simple sets, a kitchen, a beach but with timely and comical use of the props. An apron becomes a mini skirt as she recalls her teenage years, the monologue continues through the preparation and cooking of Joe’s chips and eggs, surprises are popped out of a beach bag. The direction and performance both beautifully develop the themes and nuances of Russell’s script beyond comedy – of which there is plenty, to the moments of poignancy, realisation and action; to live a life that is “more full’.

Nathan’s stamina and line recollection through this two hour show are impressive and so, too is her skill to work with the audience despite the external distractions of courting fantails and passing aeroplanes. With the play almost the age of the main character, 42, it has held its audience and age well over time, but with noticeably more men enjoying the laughs than its earlier audiences. We all leave fully in love with Shirley and a little more in love with the idea of living fuller lives.  


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