Shirley Valentine
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jon McNally

Shirley Valentine, now playing at Center Repertory Company of Walnut Creek, is a wakeup call to all the weary souls in the world who somehow took a wrong turn in life and got stuck in the mud. Kerri Shawn plays Shirley Valentine, an English housewife so caught up in life’s daily drudgeries that she finds herself talking to her kitchen wall.

This challenging one-woman drama is met and exceeded by Shawn’s sense of comic timing and a deep identification for the humanity of her character. “People can relate to Shirley,” Shawn said. “Whether we are a man or a woman, Shirley’s feelings are universal. The journey she travels celebrates falling in love with the idea of being alive, which is something we often forget about in the hustle and bustle of our everyday living.”

Though only one person is on the stage, Shawn makes us feel the other characters she describes and talks about. Though we never see Shirley’s husband, we sense the comic irony and sadness of his life. Like Shirley, he too is trapped in a stagnant drudgery that he’s not even aware of. When Shirley slowly becomes aware and gradually starts breaking away, he tries to pull her back into the mud. But through Shirley’s eyes, we know that he’s not a bad guy. He’s simply someone that got used to the mud of life. To him this non-life is normal.

This is not a put down of people who choose being a housewife as a way of life. It is a celebration of their choice and how that choice could lead to opening new doors instead of closing them.

For tickets or more information call (925) 943-SHOW or visit www.dlrca.org.

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