Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine is a one-character play by Willy Russell.[1][2] Taking the form of a monologue by a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife, it focuses on her life before and after a transforming holiday abroad.

Shirley Valentine
Shirley Valentine
Written byWilly Russell
Date premiered1986
Place premieredEveryman Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SubjectA holiday in Greece refreshes an unhappy middle aged Liverpool housewife in more ways than one


Wondering what has happened to her youth and feeling stagnant and in a rut, Shirley finds herself regularly alone and talking to the wall while preparing an evening meal of egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. When her best friend offers to pay for a trip-for-two to Greece, she packs her bags, leaves a note on the cupboard door in the kitchen, and heads for a fortnight of rest and relaxation. In Greece, with just a little effort on her part, she rediscovers everything she had been missing about her existence in England. She finds so much happiness, in fact, that when the vacation is over she decides not to return, ditching her friend at the airport and going back to the hotel where she'd been staying to ask for a job and to live a newly self-confident life in which she is at last true to herself.


Commissioned by the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, the play premiered in 1986, with Noreen Kershaw directed by Glen Walford. Two years later it opened in London's West End at the Vaudeville Theatre, with Pauline Collins directed by Simon Callow. After eight previews, the Broadway production, with Collins again directed by Callow, opened on 16 February 1989 at the Booth Theatre, where it ran for 324 performances. Ellen Burstyn replaced Collins later in the run, and Loretta Swit starred in a US national tour in 1995.

From 26 March - 8 May 2010, as part of the Willy Russell season at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Meera Syal played Shirley in the production's first London West End revival. A West End transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production ran at the Trafalgar Studios from 20 July - 30 October 2010. Meera Syal reprised her role as Shirley; this production was adapted and broadcast by BBC Radio Four in 2010 and 2017.[3]

A 30th Anniversary Tour, starring Jodie Prenger ran in the UK from March 2017 to November 2017. Prenger was met with rave reviews.

Awards and nominations


Film adaptation

Russell adapted his play for a 1989 film version, directed by Lewis Gilbert, with Collins again playing the title role.[2]

Further reading

  • Russell, Willy (1988). Shirley Valentine and One for the Road. Portsmouth, NH: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-18950-3.

See also


  1. ^ Klein, Alvin (24 April 1994). "THEATER; One Woman's Fling In 'Shirley Valentine'". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b James, Caryn (30 August 1989). "Shirley Valentine (1989) Review/Film; Shirley Valentine Talks With Others". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Willy Russell - Shirley Valentine, Saturday Drama - BBC Radio 4". BBC.

External links

1988 Laurence Olivier Awards

The 1988 Laurence Olivier Awards were held in 1988 in London celebrating excellence in West End theatre by the Society of London Theatre.

43rd British Academy Film Awards

The 43rd British Film Awards, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1990, honoured the best films of 1989.

Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society won the award for Best Film.

43rd Tony Awards

The 43rd Annual Tony Awards, which honor achievement in the Broadway theatre was held on June 4, 1989, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and broadcast by CBS television. The hostess was Angela Lansbury. Lansbury has hosted or co-hosted more Tony telecasts than any other individual, with five telecasts: 1968, 1971, 1987, 1988, and 1989.

There were no nominations for Best Book of a Musical as well as Best Score of a Musical.

47th Golden Globe Awards

The 47th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television for 1989, were held on January 20, 1990 at the Beverly Hilton. The nominations were announced on December 27, 1989.

Alison Steadman

Alison Steadman, (born 26 August 1946) is an English actor. She won the 1991 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for the Mike Leigh film Life is Sweet, and the 1993 Olivier Award for Best Actress for her role as Mari in the original production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. In a 2007 Channel 4 poll, the "50 Greatest Actors" voted for by other actors, she was ranked No. 42.Steadman made her professional stage debut in 1968 and went on to establish her career in Mike Leigh's 1970s TV plays Nuts in May (1976) and Abigail's Party (1977). She received BAFTA TV Award nominations for the 1986 BBC serial The Singing Detective, and in 2001 for the ITV drama series Fat Friends (2000–05). Other television roles include Pride and Prejudice (1995), Gavin & Stacey (2007–10) and Orphan Black (2015–16). Her other film appearances include A Private Function (1984), Clockwise (1986), Shirley Valentine (1989), Topsy Turvy (1999) and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004).

Amanda Muggleton

Amanda Lillian Muggleton (born 1951) is an English Australian theatre, television and film actress. She is best known for her role as Chrissie Latham in the television soap opera Prisoner (1979–1983). Her stage work in Australia includes the title roles in Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita, and as Maria Callas in Master Class, for which she won the 2002 Helpmann Award for Best Actress in a Play. She won a second Helpmann Award in 2005, for her role as Mercedes Cortez in the musical Eureka!.

Anna Keaveney

Anna Keaveney (born 5 October 1949, Runcorn, Cheshire, England – 20 November 2004) was an English actress best known for her role as Marie Jackson in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside..She also appeared in an episode of Birds of a Feather as Green party member of parliament candidate.

She appeared in the films Shirley Valentine, The 51st State, and in several other TV series including Ali G Indahouse, Emmerdale, Footballer's Wives, and Peak Practice. Anna made her final film appearance as Nellie in Vera Drake (2004).

John Dark

John Dark (7 April 1927 - 29 June 2015) was a British film and television producer.

Dark produced Half a Sixpence in 1967 and a series of Edgar Rice Burroughs films, including The Land That Time Forgot and At the Earth's Core, in the 1970s.

Earlier work included associate producer on the Charles K. Feldman spoofs What's New Pussycat? and Casino Royale.

Dark was also executive producer of the film adaptation of the Willy Russell play Shirley Valentine and of the ill-fated BBC soap opera set in Spain, Eldorado.

Kaizaad Kotwal

Kaizaad Kotwal (born in Mumbai, India) has worked on over 200 theatre productions and films. He is a producer, director, actor, writer and designer. He won an Emmy Award for Art Direction in 1996.

Currently he is a professor of theatre, media studies and film at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He won the Griffin Society Award for Best Professor in 2008 and in 2007 was named one of the top professors in Ohio.He is the producer and director of the Indian production of The Vagina Monologues which has been running there since 2003.He co-owns a production company called Poor-Box Productions with his mother Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal. The company started in Ohio in 1996 and the Indian one was started in 1999 when they launched their production of Shirley Valentine.

Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a New Play

The Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a New Play was an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976, and, renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier.

In 1984 the award was combined with the Actress of the Year in a Revival award to create the current Best Actress award. The award was given for the last time in the 1988 ceremony.

Lesley Walker

Lesley Walker is a British film and television editor with more than thirty feature film credits. She came into prominence in the 1980s, when she "developed a fast and snappy editing style in the decade, with A Letter to Brezhnev (1985), Mona Lisa, Cry Freedom (1987), and Shirley Valentine." She has worked extensively with directors Terry Gilliam and Richard Attenborough.Walker's work has been honored by nominations for the BAFTA Award for Best Editing (Mona Lisa (1986) and Cry Freedom (1987)), for the Genie Award for Best Achievement in Editing (Tideland (2005)), and the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award (Mamma Mia! (2008)).

Lewis Gilbert

Lewis Gilbert (6 March 1920 – 23 February 2018) was a British film director, producer and screenwriter, who directed more than 40 films during six decades; among them such varied titles as Reach for the Sky (1956), Sink the Bismarck! (1960), Alfie (1966), Educating Rita (1983) and Shirley Valentine (1989), as well as three James Bond films: You Only Live Twice (1967), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).

Marji Campi

Marji Campi is a British actress, best known for playing Joyce Watson in Surgical Spirit between 1989 and 1995; and Jessie Hilton in Brookside, from 1998 to 2002. Her stage experience includes work at Chester, Colchester, Hull and in various London venues. She reprised her role as Shirley Valentine (Hull, Colchester) at the English-Speaking Theatre in Frankfurt.

Other TV roles include Dulcie Froggatt, who had an on/off affair with Jack Duckworth in Coronation Street from 1984 to 1987, plus Heartbeat, Doctors, The Bill, Casualty and Where the Heart Is.

She also portrayed the role of Evie Brown in Eastenders for a small number of episodes during December 2006.

In 1967, she appeared in seven live-transmission episodes of Z-Cars.

She trained as an actress at East 15 Acting School.

Recent television includes guesting on The Impressions Show and a role in the hit comedy Way to Go. Recent stage includes Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace at Salisbury Playhouse (2009) and the twin roles of Barbara/Dorothy in Country Life (London, 2010, revival, London, 2011, and in a radio version).

Her latest stage appearance was in Spring 2013 as Betty in A Passionate Woman by Kay Mellor.

2016: Radio 4 Drama 'The Bone Orchard'.

+ Indie film.

2016 and 2017 in 'Cold Feet' as Barbara Blythe, mother of Jenny Gifford, played by actress and food writer Fay Ripley.

2017: 'Moving On' (Doreen).

+ Indie film.

2017: Cold Feet (Barbara)

Mary McEvoy

For the English artist see Mary McEvoy (artist).

Mary McEvoy (born 1954) is an Irish actress. She is recognised by television viewers for having played the role of Biddy Byrne in Glenroe from 1983–2000. After that she has been in numerous plays, including Big Maggie, Sive, The Field, The Chastitute, The Vagina Monologues, Shirley Valentine, The Matchmaker, The Year of the Hiker, Dancing at Lughnasa, Whippy, The Life and Times of Selma Mae, Moonlight and Music and Jo Bangles. She is also noted for her washing powder advertisements on television.

Nicola Cavendish

Nicola Cavendish (born 11 November 1952) is an English-born Canadian theatre and film actress. She has won a Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for the 1991 film The Grocer's Wife and a Gemini Award nomination for the 1998 film The Sleep Room.

Cavendish was born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England and brought up in British Columbia, Canada. She began her acting career in the mid-1970s.Her theatre roles have included cross-Canada tours starring in Shirley Valentine and For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again. Her other film roles include Suddenly Naked, Air Bud, It and My American Cousin. Television roles include Men in Trees, The L Word, Highlander: The Series, The X-Files, Street Legal and Red Serge. On Christmas movie : Christmas secret (2014) : Betty. The Christmas note (2015) : Betty

Noreen Kershaw

Noreen Kershaw is an English television actress and director.

She trained at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre and, at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, originated the title role of the play Shirley Valentine, later made famous by Pauline Collins. She was seen in the BBC television series Life on Mars, as WPC Phyllis Dobbs, the desk officer.She had previously played the roles of Kathy Roach in Channel 4's Brookside 1988-1990, Lynne Harrison in Granada Television's Albion Market 1985-1986, and Joyce Wilson in the long running Granada TV sitcom, WatchingShe has directed episodes of the top rated ITV1 soap opera, Coronation Street, as well as Channel 4's comedy drama, Shameless, ITV1 soap opera Emmerdale and Heartbeat and BBC Scotland"s River City.In 2008, she directed the feature film Act of Grace.

Pauline Collins

Pauline Collins, (born 3 September 1940), is an English actress of stage, television, and film, who first came to prominence portraying Sarah Moffat in Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–73) and its spin-off, Thomas & Sarah (1979). In 1992, she released her autobiography, titled Letter to Louise.Collins played the title role in the play Shirley Valentine, for which she won an Olivier Award in 1988, and Drama Desk and Tony Awards in 1989. She reprised the role in the 1989 film adaptation, winning the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. She also starred in the television dramas Forever Green (1989–92) and The Ambassador (1998–99). Her other film appearances include City of Joy (1992), Paradise Road (1997), Albert Nobbs (2011), Quartet (2012), and The Time of Their Lives (2017).

Shirley Valentine (film)

Shirley Valentine is an award-winning 1989 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert. The screenplay by Willy Russell is based on his 1986 one-character play of the same title, which follows middle aged Shirley Valentine in an unexpected discovery of herself, and rekindling of her childhood dreams and youthful love of life.

Pauline Collins reprises the titular lead role as middle-aged housewife Shirley, which she had previously played in the stage production in London's West End and on Broadway, and Tom Conti plays Costas Dimitriades, the owner of a Greek tavern with whom she has a holiday romance.

Willy Russell

William Russell (born 23 August 1947) is an English dramatist, lyricist and composer. His best known works are Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers and Our Day Out.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.