Tag Archives: Comedy

Review: Camp Be Yourself by Sian Thomas

From the get go of this show, Camp Be Yourself, I saw that there was a lovely theatre space being used. I hadn’t been aware of 10 Feet Tall in the first place, nevertheless the kind of atmosphere it was hiding upstairs. A nice rustic feeling to it and it’s plush chairs, I felt like I was in for a good evening in a space so suitably equipped for creating just that. There was an atmosphere that had definitely existed since it was built and decorated in the way it was (disco ball? Rustic looking wooden furniture? Soft blue couches? Dotted around fairy lights? All of those are right up my alley) which had an impact on the feel of the show. What I had expected had been much different or what had been delivered. What I’d thought I’d be seeing was a more sombre or rather, a more serious, at least, show about growing up being oneself in the world where it feels like everything else is more important. I have a tendency to look at dates and times of shows and go, sometimes more than seeing what the show is about first. What was delivered however was so different, but still so good in that different way: two girls running a camp and preparing for a talent show while one finds a passion and the other opens up about her past and they do it in a way that unrelenting in their comedy.

The performance was lively from the very beginning, also, what with leagues of “hello campers!” And “nice! High fives!” going all around the room and making it back to the stage. I thought for a while there would be more audience participation, which lead me down the “oh NO!!!” path I’d been down recently with Fringe shows but quickly overcome, but to my relief I was allowed to sit and kick back and be shown. It was nice, I really think, to be able to watch. And it will also be nice to give them five stars based on things I saw and felt, not on things I did and joined in with. Both of these things are good in their own right, but it was really nice to experience this one after experiencing two bouts of the other.
There was a lot to pick up on, as well. Fun costumes, firstly – that, in all honestly, were exactly what I’d picture for a camp-based story. Yellow t-shirts with a white outline, jeans, those eternal trackies that are somehow always everywhere. Also, bunches and high ponytails, because yeah, of course.
There was such a good use of space and effects! I hadn’t known what the theatre space had looked like beforehand but what it was hadn’t been what I’d expected but it seemed such a good fit for the show. A semicircle(ish) arrangement of seats and a nicely black and white striped wall of the stage, a disco ball (really loved that touch) and an array of lighting choices. A number of songs used, of laughs created, of amazing jokes told.
Five stars are normally used because the book was so good it must be bought or there’s more showings of a performance and I am yelling into the internet hoping someone will take my word for it and go to that other showing. I’ve broken that rule a couple times and given one time things five stars and felt weird about that even though I enjoyed them so heartily it was unbelievable. But I don’t feel bad doing that things time! There is a second showing of Camp Be Yourself, in the very same lovely little theatre space, and I can’t recommend enough going to see it (http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/).
One last thing was that I think it’s wonderful and I think it’s important that this show was two women cracking us all up and how full the seats were, too. I really liked that. It’s nice to see women in all fields, especially comedy. They really hooked me in, that’s all I can really describe about that. I really want to put my kudos forward; I loved the two girls, the energy they had and the laughter they created. I hope the show goes on to do well!

Sian Thomas

Review: Godden And Barnes by Sian Thomas

Coming in to see this live show, to see Godden and Barnes, there was a swelling atmosphere in the Sherman Theatre foyer. A trepidation centring when the piece would begin and exactly what it would entail, because I certainly didn’t know, but I’m glad I went to find out. Gearing up, the microphone (and microphone stand) was used and quickly the height difference between  the two was staggering (and relatable: I’m short, everyone else isn’t. I’ve been told to do my fair share of things and only been able to stare up at them and stare back at the person). I remember that being the moment that I was tipped off and knew I’d be having a fun time.

Audience participation is still (and probably always will be) both spring upon me and terrifying. I’ve said this previously and I’ll probably continue to stand by it based alone on that “oh no what are they doing oh my god what’s happening oh NO” feeling that occurs very quickly. The sudden realisation that I could be up in a crowd unprepared and anxious is so frightening. Which is kind of weird, then, that this time I got up and joined in. I don’t normally do that, but it was nice to. Normally participation like this has an overwhelmingly intimidating feeling to it, but the two did a good job of deflating that tension before it could really arise. So I jumped their taped line and I ran around in a pencil skirt (a feat, if I say so myself) and I danced (ISABELLE IF YOU’RE READING: thank you SO much for being there, helping creating the Fringe, all those things too, but especially for: dancing with me in that moment. I have no idea how to dance and you saved me from what would have definitely been me embarrassing myself. Thank you).
I’m giving this show five stars in the hope that 1) it returns and 2) because it got me out of my seat and the whole time I wasn’t in it I wasn’t acutely terrified – which is also a feat, if I do say so myself.

I normally like to keep myself under wraps at any show. I have a huge preference for staying inside my own head and sorting my own thoughts to be laid out, often in a piece like this, later on in a day or so. I like watching a performance, and bookmarking in my mind how I feel about it. I have, as well, a tendency to look quite blank while I do this (I swear I was enjoying the show, I was just doing this, and I was shy about laughing too loud in the foyer that could have echoed if I’d have let loose).  I also wasn’t aware that some of my favourite jokes must be impressions but based on the noise I made when I heard an impression of Owen Wilson’s “Wow” (something I already find funny, mind you, because I’m young and know that that is a popular joke) must make it true.

The two used the space they had really well. I didn’t even know the foyer in the Sherman had a balcony that could be used in the way that they used it. It made me think that the show itself must have to be quite flexible and the placement quite malleable in order for things to work in the order that they did the night I saw how it would flow.This production was also just an hour long (another easy thing to give! Just a slice of time reserved for the laughs we all need) It felt like a lot less; I heard myself say “Oh?” When they told us they were done (the time that they meant it, though).
The Fringe will press on in good time, continuing to carry shows I’m excited to see. (http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/).

I was sorry to hear that the show will be stopped for a little while, but I’m sure enough that it’s for a good reason and will yield good results for the future. I hope that whenever the show returns, I might be able to see it again, and enjoy it all over again.

Sian Thomas

Review: The Play That Goes Wrong, New Theatre by Eloise Stingemore

Returning to the New Theatre, Cardiff where the original tour begin in 2014, The Play That Goes Wrong, is a side splitting, belly aching, highly physical, extremely ambitious slapstick comedy that has taken both the West End and Broadway by storm.

The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920’s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does. In fact, it all starts falling apart even before the actors take to the stage in the equivalent of a pre-titles sequence. As a member of the cast runs around the theatre looking for a dog called Winston and a Duran Duran CD, whilst stage hands recruit an unsuspecting member of the audience to help finish the stage construction with hilarious albeit disastrous results.

 

The show sits in a fine tradition of British slapstick, and of plays about theatrical blunders: from doors not opening to the same doors not closing, pictures and props falling off the walls and parts of the set collapsed with cast members on them and parts of the script repeated on a loop as members forgot their lines. There was barely time to breath in-between each joke, for the first time in my life I truly experienced what it means to laugh till it hurts.

It is difficult to single out a cast member as they each showed excellent knowledge of comedy timing and demonstrate the physical prowess to perform their role while having to think about so many different things happening on stage.

The Play That Goes Wrong delivers laughs that come thick and fast, Mondays’ Opening night audience at the New Theatre, Cardiff absolutely roared with laughter and where buzzing as they left. If you have recently found yourself in need of cheering up make sure you catch the show as it tours the UK in 2018. It’s the perfect remedy to making all your worries and cares disappear for 2 1/2 hrs that is!

Tour dates and ticket information can be found here: http://www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com/uk-tour/tickets

Review Deadpool 2 by Jonathan Evans

The first Deadpool movie was rude, crude and meta as all hell. It was juvenile but also revealed in how juvenile it was. It knew what it was and poked fun of itself as much as the Superhero genre, which made it hard to dislike. Now the sequel is here with more money and characters.

At the start of my review of the first movie, I made a point that Deadpool was not a hero due to his lack of moral center and just being a hired gun. It seems like this movies goal is to definitely make him a hero, one of the lewdest you’ll ever find, but a hero none-the-less.

The movie opens with Deadpool (Ryan Renolds) being a hired gun and killing all sorts of over-the-top villains, he makes it home to his beloved girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when she is shocking shot down before him! What follows is a parody of a Bond opening that is just as shocked that they made such a decision. Deadpool then falls into depression and is pulled into joining the X-Men as a trainee, when they need to deal with a young rouge mutant Russell Collins/Firefist (Julian Dennison) this go very bad and both of them end up in Jail.

Things only elevate and complicated with the arrival of Cable, a gun-toting, robotic armed mercenary from the future. He is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays the antagonist in Avengers: Infinity War, this is a bit odd and they do indeed use it for material. Brolin himself is playing the role like he wasn’t in a comedy at all, he is playing this character as if this movie was a serious time traveling science fiction movie. This adds to the comedy greatly, he is the straight man that contrasts with the cast that are virtually living cartoon characters. He doesn’t really look that out of place with a glowing eye and robotic arm but through the interactions you see he’s is out of place.

Other players from the last movie return. Firstly there is the reliable taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) that now wants to be an active member of Deadpool’s business. Weasel (T. J. Miller), the very snarky barman that get’s a little more wrapped up in the drama of the plot this time around. My favorite character throughout these movies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who may have even less screentime than the last movie but like the last one every time she appears she makes me laugh, so I’ll take it. Then there’s the big, friendly Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), who continues to try and make Deadpool the best person he can be, it’s an uphill battle.

Along for the ride are also new characters. Most prominent is Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is luck, this lends itself to some well-constructed and creative action set-pieces that are well thought out and executed, and she is a fun character in her own right. There is also Bedlam (Terry Crews), able is dish-out large amounts of power, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) is an alien who is apparently better than humans in every way, Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) has the ability to spit acidic saliva and then theres Peter (Rob Delaney) he’s just a regular guy that showed up and they decided to take him along for the ride. There is also Vanisher, but the least I say about them the better so just go and see the movie.

I didn’t mention it in the last movie and it’s still present here so I’ll make up for it. Ryan Renolds costume in the movie covers his face completely and uses that limitation to emote through his entire body. From subtle head nods to iconic body posing and moments of energetic movements he brings the character to life.

I know that this isn’t the most sophisticated of comedy but sometimes that doesn’t matter and the results speak for themselves. I laughed during the movie, multiple times and somewhere rather big laughs. As did the audience at the screening so it seems to be hitting the right nerve.

This is an R rated action comedy that is meant for teenage to young men. It knows this and revels in who the character was made for and is still sharply shot and the script is solid. This is much more emotionall grounded than the last movie and I would say after the journey Deadpool is a hero, not the best example of one but there we are.

 

Review: How to Win Against History by Gemma Treharne-Foose

 

(5 / 5)

If you’ve never heard of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey or Henry Cyril Paget – that’s exactly what his family intended to happen when they erased him from their family history by burning every photograph and possession relating to his life.

Based on true story, this completely original production pieces together the charred remains and distant memories of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey – a cross-dressing dandy who inherited the keys to the kingdom in Victorian Britain, but lived fast and died young.

At one time the richest man in Britain, he rejected the duties of his title to live an outrageously opulent and controversial life, putting on elaborate plays, building over the chapel on the family estate to build a theatre and tour Europe with his ‘Electric Butterfly Orchestra’ – with himself as the leading artist, of course.

This is a fabulously foppish flight of fancy that will have you belly laughing from lights up until lights down.

The Marquess of Anglesey was an unapologetic narcissist, who if born in more recent times would no doubt be the subject of a gaudy commercial deal, a magazine spread or a reality TV series. But although the production pokes fun at the story, it is never cruel.

How to Win Against History is a high-camp, high energy extravaganza, subverting the almost homoerotic goings on within public schools, the aristocracy and the Empire.

Starring Seiriol Davies who plays (or should I say ‘slays’) as Henry Paget, this show chasses, minces and shimmies its way through his back story, shining a light on the social awkwardness of Victorian times, the absurdity and pomposity of theatre and the sheer hilarity of being a square peg in a round hole.

Matthew Blake plays the part of Paget’s right hand man – the Victorian west end actor Alexander Keith and the pair have incredible chemistry and comic timing. Every movement, sigh and flick of the hand is played up and milked for laughs.

Imagine a show featuring Lawrence Llywelyn-Bowen’s lovechild on acid at Mardi Gras, mashed up with Monty Python, Downton Abbey and Ru Paul’s Drag Race. That wouldn’t even come close to how remarkable this is.

Despite the madcap silliness and outrageousness though, it’s a show with substance and heart. Seiriol Davies has created something quite heartfelt and poignant, the music and lyrics are sharp and clever and the incredible vocal performances of the trio on stage meander from genre to genre.

You really want Henry Paget to win and the way audiences are responding to this production shows that in the end – he has.

Some lights are too bright to ever be distinguished.

Review Happy Death Day by Jonathan Evans

Happy Death Day is a black comedy with pieces of a genuine horror mixed in, essentially Groundhog Day meets Halloween. From that you can already guess the main problem with the movie, it lacks a distinct personality. It is quite good at times and blunt at others but the overall product has a tonal problem that leaves you coming out of it not sure with what you just saw.

It opens with a girl named Theresa waking up in a college dorm room, she is hungover and can barely remember the night before, she goes about her day and things happen that establish that shes popular but not very nice. It is also her birthday, which she doesn’t want people to know or acknowledge herself. She heads out for the night, while on her way a figure appears and stabs her to death. She then wakes at the start of the day and must relive the day of her murder over and over again.

Jessica Rothe plays Theresa. She fulfills everything that the script requires her to do well. She screams very high and loudly, she comes off like a spoiled rich kid, there are other moments that call for her to be funny etc. She does a solid job in the movie.

The killer is dressed entirely in black with a cartoon baby face mask. A good design that is both distinctive and easily recognisable. It may become iconic and then again it might not, but credit goes to creating an easily registrable visual.

With any kind of teen movie as well and having a plot where repetition is a main theme naturally there is a montage sequence. It is stuff like this that clashes with the overall movie. Are we meant to always be laughing or genuinely feel frightened for out main character? At the start we do, then it becomes a case of “ow dang it!” then near the climax we’re meant to feel for her again.

This is a spoiler free review but I will say that the two main questions I had while watching the movie were (obviously) how is all of this happening? And how does the killer seem to always magically track her down? We get answers to none of these.

The concept is fine and the execution is good at times as well. However it’s stereotypical portrayal of teens and suffering from either not knowing what it wants to be or wanting to be too many things it becomes pieces of a solid work rather than a whole. If there are no better offers at the cinema then it isn’t a waste, but is also only worth one watch.

Jonathan Evans

Review The LEGO Ninjago Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

(3 / 5)

I am shocked that an obvious big budget toy commercial are able to create such fun and well made (pun intended) movies. The LEGO Movie was number one on the year it was released and earlier this year I had a blast watching The LEGO Batman Movie. Now we have another and surprise I’m excited for it.

After an introductory opening sequence in live action we are transported to a LEGO constructed world and the city of Ninjago, where on a regular basis (daily) evil forces merge from a nearby volcano and attempt to conquer it, lead by the all black, four armed Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux). Luckily for the cities inhabitants there is a group of ninjas with giant mech’s to fight and win against them.

In the forefront is the Green Ninja, Lloyd (Dave Franco), Red Ninja (Michael Pena), Blue Ninja (Kumail Nanjiani), Silver Ninja (Abbi Jackson), Black Ninja (Fred Armisen) and the White Ninja (Zack Woods) who’s probably a robot for some reason. They all have their special power and design of giant robot as well as distinguishing personality but as the movie goes on they get lost amongst other things. The ninjas are revered by the towns people but it turns out that in his civilian life Llyod is Garmadon’s son (da-da-dah!). This leads to regular hate, blame and judgement from nearly all the other civilians.

Another character is Master Wu played by legendary martial arts star Jackie Chan. This is doubtless the role where Chan is having the most fun, how can he not when he is given a script with so many funny lines. He is the martial arts master that teaches the ninjas how to better themselves. But he comes out with either too blunt or too cryptic ways of going bout it. He is also amazing at laying the flute.

All the other movies have had the initial presentation of a crazy colourful world with comedy at a fast passe. However through the watching it is revealed that there is an emotional center to it that ties the movie together. Here it is the father son relationship between Lloyd and Garmadon. About how a father and son can become astray and the outward devastation that can cause. It’s just presented with larger than life scenarios and jokes tying it together and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The comedy is very tongue-in-cheek and that is the overall style that these movies have adopted. Having their source material and playing within it but never be beyond poking fun of the world or archetypes they have.

The animation still embraces the limitations of the real plastic of the LEGO pieces however they allow themselves some more lapses than the other movies animation. They unhinge the arms from their sockets, squash some other pieces and have water instead of a vast amount of moving blue pieces. It’s a valid artistic choice to make but the previous movies commitment to the real limitations was so impressive that this somehow feel like a letdown.

Something I feel is a drawback for the movie is that it doesn’t have much access to as many resources as the previous LEGO movies did. The first had the entirety of the franchises that LEGO has worked with and Batman had not just the Dark Knight but a a bunch of other DC lore to bring in.

Even if this isn’t as good as the other two movies to come out this ones still fun with a lot of talent and enthusiasm put into it. There is so much creativity put into the setting it up  and has an emotional core that ties it all together.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Around The World In 80 Days by Jane Bissett

(5 / 5)

By Jules Verne

Adapted by Laura Eason

Phileas Fogg is a mysterious and wealthy man who while at his London club wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days.

Joining him on this mad cap and most impossible adventure is his loyal french valet, Passepartout. Leaving Victorian London behind they race against time and tide to fulfill their undertaking and to ensure that they return home in 80 days to the hour for Fogg to win the wager.

This production is a wonderfully funny romp around the globe with Fogg as our leader and Passepartout as our guide. From the exotic subcontinent to the American Wild West over land and sea there are laughs a plenty and audience participation. The fast moving pace leaves you almost breathless and it is impossible to believe that the 125 characters you see on the stage are only played by a cast of eight!

The energy of this magnificantly talented cast is inspiring as they move from trains to boats, across land and even travel by elephant!

There is also a daring rescue,four fights, three dances and two circus acts and they even manage a wedding!

The highly skilled performances for the non-contact fights including slow motion was punctuated by sound effects and comic timing which looked effortless. This was stage craft at its very best and the action just went on and on.

Director, Theresa Heskins, has achieved the impossible by bringing the world to the stage and the cast and creative team rose to the challenge of bringing it all to life by the use of stage, props, lighting and sound.

Whilst this was truly a whole cast performance, Michael Hugo as Passepartout was outstanding. He had the audience joining him on stage and off to great effect laughing at him, with him, and also at themselves.

This is a truly enjoyable show for which you need to take along your inner child and leave your inhibitions as home.

Prepare to go on a journey that will see you laughing your way around the world and leave you wanting more.

At the final curtain, when the cast returned to the stage the beaming smiles were a clear indication that they, the cast, had enjoyed performing as much as the audience had enjoyed the performance.

Around the World in 80 Days plays at Cardiff’s New Theatre from;

Tuesday 19 September – Sunday 24 September at 7.00pm

Thursday, Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2.30pm.

For further details or to book tickets call the Box Office on 02920878889.

Review: Hairspray, Wales Millennium Centre – By Eloise Stingemore

(5 / 5)

Hairspray is back and bigger than Tracy Turnblad’s hair. It’s louder than the Corny Collins show at full volume. It’s a big bouffant of a musical!

Set in 1962 Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even a bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV with The Nicest Kids In Town. Tracys audition not only makes her a local celebrity, she sends sales of Ultra Clutch Hairspray through the roof and bags local heartthrob Link Larkin. However, when Tracy uses her newfound fame to fight for equality, it puts her at loggerheads with Velma Von Tussle the producer of the show but also mother of the show’s “star” teenager, Amber Von Tussle, jeopardising her place on the show and her freedom.

From the opening vamp of “Good Morning Baltimore,” to the final chorus of the finale, “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” the shows score a mixture of bubble-gum pop to rhythm and blues is irresistibly catchy. Rebecca Mendoza shines in her professional debut as Tracy whereas Edward Chitticks plays Link Larkin with the right amount of cool that manages to capture your attention and make your heart flutter every time he is on stage. As for Layton Williams who is best known as Stephen Carmichael in the hit BBC Three show Bad Education, he presents a dazzling array of dance skills all whilst crafting a touching relationship with Liard-Bailey’s Penn. However, it is the coupling of Mat Rixon and Norman Pace as Edna and Wilburn Turnblad that gives the show a fantastic comic spark. Their duet of “Your Timeless To Me” was delivered to perfection and Pace body language had the audience in stitches, which makes it shame that the audience saw so little of the two together during Kerryson’s production.

The show features an impressive variety of costumes by Takis from the fabulous ’60s fashions Tracy and Edna get from “Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway”, to Corny’s comical red sequinned suit, and, of course, the giant hairdos sprayed with the titular product. However, Takis’ reliance on a projected backdrop to capture the Civil Rights protests meant at times the stage felt slightly bare but nevertheless did an excellent way of demonstrating the two sides to American society at the time.

Hairspray is full of colour, soul and free spirit that defined the 60s. It is the ultimate feel good show and judging by the amount of smiles in the foyer as people left the venue they didn’t want the beat to end.

Hairspray opened in Cardiff on August 16, 2017, with a tour around the UK until June 2018. Tour dates and ticket information available can be found here: http://www.hairsprayuktour.com/tour-dates/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review Shirley Valentine by Jane Bissett

3 Stars

Shirley Valentine is a middle-aged housewife who talks to the wall. She is married to Joe and has been a faithful wife and mother. Stuck in the rut of an unfulfilled marriage of routine and domestic drudgery she longs for another life.

Shirley’s best friend Jane, who is unattached since she discovering her husband in bed with the milkman, seems to enjoy a carefree existence and is able to experience a world that Shirley can only dream about.

This however, changes when Jane books a holiday to Greece and not only invites Shirley but gives her the tickets so as to make her decision more difficult.

Of course Shirley wants to go but how does she tell Joe, a man who for the whole of their married life has considered their annual holiday to the Isle of Wight – abroad.

Whilst the holiday is only three weeks away, Shirley struggles with her desire to change her life and become Shirley Valentine once more and leave drudgery behind. As a wife and mother she is caught up in being the constant in the lives of her family and wonders if she should go at all.

Eventually, she decides that she cannot let this opportunity slip away, whilst also knowing that if she tells Joe he will throw a fit, talk her out of it and tell her how stupid she is being.

So confiding in the kitchen wall, to whom she constantly chats, she plans to accompany Jane to Greece.

With all her domestic plans in place, Joe’s meals cooked and in the freezer, her mother coming over to defrost and microwave for him, Shirley buys new clothes for the new her that will go to Greece.

On the day of departure Shirley leaves by taxi and her adventure begins.

Once in Greece Jane hooks up with a man and Shirley spends the first few days by herself. She enjoys the freedom of not being at the beck and call of anyone else and she spends her days exploring the island and soaking up the sun and culture and slowly but surely a new Shirley is reborn – Shirley Valentine of her youth has returned.

With the scales peeled from her eyes she sees the people around her in a new light. The holiday makers at her hotel and the local population, Shirley has gone ‘native’.

Her transformation is complete when she meets Costas, the owner of a local tavern, who helps her fulfill her dream of drinking wine by the sea in the country where the grapes are grown.

Promising not to take advantage of her, the following day he takes her out for the day around the islands in his brother’s boat. The experience is life changing for Shirley, bolstering her confidence in herself and her attractiveness.

On the day of departure, as they are stood in the airport check-in queue Shirley realises she cannot go back to her old life and with the shouts of Jane and fellow passengers following her “come back!” she walks out of the airport and away from her old life and into a new one as she decides to stay in Greece and ask Costas for a job.

When she gets to the tavern Costas is already ‘chatting up’ the next woman, but Shirley hasn’t come back for Costas she has gone back for herself, the youthful, carefree, adventurer who was buried deep inside and who has finally emerged.

Now working evenings at the tavern, Shirley has fielded several phone calls from Joe demanding that she come home. Now, he has decided that his only course of action is to go to Greece to bring her back. Shirley on the other hand has no intention of returning and is sure that Joe will pass her by before recognising her as the happy changed woman she has become.

Shirley Valentine is the creation of writer Willy Russell. She is a manifestation of the 1960/70s middle-aged woman who married young, brought up a family and supported her husband.

Playwright Willy Russell was brought up in Liverpool surrounded by a family of strong women. At the age of 15 he left school to work at a womens’ hairdressers before returning to education and his career as a writer. It is clear that his observations of the women that surrounded him have had an effect on his writing as he has captured their essence as well as the secret dreams and aspirations of women of this time perfectly.

As a one-woman play Shirley Valentine is a triumph of female characterisation. As Shirley, Jodie Prenger skilfully develops her personality as the play unfolds and she tells her story. As she works her way around the kitchen and talks to the audience and of course the ‘wall’ you are drawn into her world and even the younger theatre goer gains a greater understanding of the life she leads and the life she dreams of.

It did feel as if it was a little bit of a slow burn, but this character could not have been rushed as she bared her soul and inner dreams before us.

Prenger’s portrayal of Shirley was a realistic and believable one. The audience was biased towards women, it has to be said of a certain age, who were empathetic to the character and her situation. The unsuppressed laughter at Shirley’s description of her life and encounters was encouraging as you realised that the audience ‘got it’.

Glen Walford has directed this production with the imagination and skill that you would have expected given her directing pedigree.

Although there are only two scene locations both felt familiar. The kitchen, the heart of the home, and the beach in Greece. I particularly liked the subtle lighting effects that gave movement to the sea it added to the atmosphere without distracting.

If there is one take away moment it has to be watching Prenger actually cooking chips’n’egg on stage, and as the lights dimmed for the next scene I couldn’t help smiling to myself as a male stage hand came on to clean the kitchen area. Something that her Joe would have been horrified at seeing, but then I wondered, would any of the younger women in the audience have even noticed?

Prenger did not disappoint as Shirley and received a well deserved standing ovation for giving us two hours of sheer pleasure.

Shirley Valentine plays at Cardiff’s New Theatre from;

Tuesday 27 June – Saturday 1 July at 7.30pm

On Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday there are performances at 2.30pm.

For further details about the show or to book tickets call the Box Office on 02920878889.