If you love theatre, do not miss DeeDee Rescher's spectacular one-woman portrayal of Shirley Valentine. Although I had seen the movie version of Willy Russell's charming English comedy, this is the first time I've heard his words delivered live from the stage. I cannot imagine anyone, anywhere, interpreting Shirley Valentine with more charm, delight, and insight than Rescher. For two hours, she holds the audience spellbound as she turns herself into her character: an expressive 42-year-old housewife, who confides her innermost feelings out loud—first from the center of her spotless Liverpool kitchen, then from the seashore of her Greek rebirth. Through it all, Shirley spares herself nothing, recalling memory and detail with self-mocking honesty, grace, longing, and good humor.
And, as her children are gone and her husband is a boring stick-in-the-mud, Shirley has no one to talk to except the wall. When a friend unexpectedly invites her to fly to Greece for two weeks, Shirley declines at first. In spite of her lifelong dream to "sit in the sun by the edge of the shore and sip wine," she knows her husband would never allow it. Besides, she would feel guilty. But when the lout goes ballistic over his supper one night, she summons up her courage, changes her mind, packs her bag, and leaves without telling him. Act Two takes place in Greece, where Shirley finds adventure, of course; but more important, she finds herself.
Elaine Herman directs Rescher's performance with special nuance and sensitivity, Paul Carne serves as dialect coach, and resident designer Vincent Roca creates the Liverpool kitchen/seashore set.
"Shirley Valentine," presented by and at the Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Fri.-Sat.8 p.m. July 17-Aug. 21. $20. (562) 494-1014.