Reviewed by Tony Annicone
2nd Story Theatre’s current show is “Shirley Valentine”, a comedy by Willy Russell. Inside Mrs. Joe Bradshaw, a 42 year old mother of two grown children, is the former Shirley Valentine longing to get out. Her schoolgirl dreams have faded and she is reduced to talk to the kitchen wall while preparing her husband’s evening meal. It is to be on the table at the same time every night as he opens the front door. Her feminist friend, Jane offers her a trip to Greece, and with great trepidation, Shirley seizes the opportunity and goes, to encounter a totally new lifestyle there. This one person show contains humor, pathos, warm sympathy and human insight. It contains a tour de force performance by Joanne Fayan in the title role who captures the essence of this character perfectly. The whole audience rose to their feet at the end of her phenomenal performance. Brava!
Director Mark Peckham cast the right person for this role and elicits a stunning, multilayered performance from Joanne. He blends the comic and dramatic moments together splendidly. The show takes place in two acts. The first is set in a kitchen in Liverpool, England and the second is set on a secluded Greek island beach with a taverna. The sets by Max Ponticelli are superb. In the first act Shirley tells the problems of her life to the kitchen wall while drinking a glass of wine during scene one. The Nativity story with her son as Joseph is hilarious. In scene two, she tells the wall that she has decided to take the trip without telling her husband while running around getting ready to leave. She wants life beyond the wall and her neighbor gives a silk robe to take with her on her trip. The second act reveals how Shirley has become a free spirit again while recapturing her long lost youth. Shirley realizes it is what you want to do that is more important than what you have to do. Joanne runs the gamut of emotions in this role, keeping your attention during the whole 86 page script. She is absolutely brilliant in this role, making this one of the must see shows of this season. So for a powerhouse one woman show, be sure to catch “Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.
SHIRLEY VALENTINE (10 March to 2 April)
2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market St, Warren, RI
1(401)847-4200 or www.2ndstorytheatre.com