REVIEW: Shirley Valentine at Theatre Royal Brighton

I wasn't old enough to fully understand it, but I have fond memories of watching the Oscar-nominated 1989 film Shirley Valentine on video with my mum.

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So when I saw it was coming to Theatre Royal Brighton, I jumped at the chance to revisit the era of my youth.

Set in 1980s suburban Liverpool, the story of Shirley Valentine is one of a middle-aged woman who is unhappy with what has become of her life – or, really, what hasn’t.

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Shirley is the mother or grown-up children, and the wife of an exacting husband. She is the classic 1980s housewife, but she begins to realise she wants more from life.

Her good friend offers her an all-expenses-paid holiday to Greece, and while there she meets a taverna owner who changes her outlook on life...

It might sound like there would be a reasonable cast of supporting actors for this show, but it is, in fact, a one-woman performance.

I hadn’t realised this until I flicked through the programme, and also didn’t realise that it was originally a stage show before it was made into a film.

Originally starring Pauline Collins in its first West End run, the actress who then went on to play the role in the movie, it has been reprised on stage to mark the 30th anniversary of it being written with Jodie Prenger in the lead role.

She is is perhaps best known for winning the role of Nancy in the West End production of Oliver! through the BBC television series I’d Do Anything. Most recently Jodie toured the UK in the classic musical Tell Me On A Sunday.

I hadn’t seen her in anything prior to this, so I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s no mean feat to learn the lines to fill a two-hour play by yourself, but to deliver them in an accent that’s not your own and without any slip-ups, was very impressive.

She was instantly warm and likeable, and even managed to cook egg and chips live on stage – so kudos for that!

The show is on a week-long run at the Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday. The show is at 7.45pm and there are matinees at 2.30pm on Thursday and Sunday.

Tickets can be booked by visiting the theatre’s website