“Side Show” is the predominant game in town until next Wednesday and, since I’m not talking about that show right now, I’ll go back and right a wrong from several weeks ago. I was lucky enough to catch “Shirley Valentine” during its closing weekend out at the Tavern and I didn’t really talk in depth about it. I won’t deliver a whole dissertation here but I will say I thought it was an awesome performance by Ms. Steinberg. What JB does so well is demonstrate in the early scenes that Shirley isn’t just any housewife; she’s a little spitfire whose flame has been dimmed by the years of domesticity and parenthood. By showing us that early, we can believe that she would go ahead and jettison her previous life for a new one as a way to recapture the spirit of that young rebel she once was.
One of my favorite scenes was when Shirley’s daughter moves back (very temporarily) with the expectation that Shirley will continue to be a domestic servant. The post-adolescent outrage the daughter expresses is precious and I can see extreme future versions of my own lovely daughters in the characterization. The show also has some great messages about the perceptions have about others: Shirley’s high school nemesis always wanted to be her back in the day, the overly-dramatic neighbor says she wouldn’t have the courage to do what Shirley does. It’s a nice reminder that we all look at the world from our own little box and we shouldn’t assume what others are seeing from inside theirs.
Though I thought JB did a flawless job, there was at least one thing that I didn’t love about the show. The talking to the wall conceit is a little contrived and makes some of Shirley’s lines awkward (though it does set up a nice joke with the Greek rock). I can’t remember exactly but I think someone had called the show dated; I didn’t have a problem with that. It may not be strictly contemporary but I also think Shirley’s situation still speaks to about a billion people who find themselves in a middle-aged morass wondering how the hell they got there.
I thought the set was great and the working stove and frier were pretty impressive. Not being an anglophile, I didn’t notice the small incongruities that have since been pointed out. The lighting had a few glitchy aspects but it was pointed out to me later that the lighting designer lit the show before the set was complete which couldn’t have been easy.
Overall, it was a great show and in particular, one that I was glad both my mom and my daughter got to see.