Willy Russell’s 1989 film hit about a frustrated housewife who’s sole confidant is her kitchen wall has been translated into Welsh for the stage. Due to open at Theatr Soar in Merthyr Tydfil on Thurs 3 March before embarking on a Welsh tour, the production is the first for Y Consortiwm Cymraeg, a new collaboration from Theatr na nÓg, Theatr Soar, The Welfare in Ystradgynlais and Awen Cultural Trust with venues in Porthcawl, Maesteg and Pontypridd – all of whom have joined forces to present high-quality, accessible Welsh language theatre in their local communities.
Pauline Collins, who played Shirley herself in the film, was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal. BAFTA Cymru-nominated actress Shelley Rees will tackle the role here in its Welsh-language incarnation. Shelley will be known to screen and stage audiences across Wales for having recently starred in Keeping Faith, Casualty, Gwaith Cartref and perhaps most famously as Stacey Jones in Pobol Y Cwm.
Describing the opportunity to play Shirley, Shelley has confessed to butterflies at the prospect. “I am delighted (and terrified) to be given the opportunity to play the iconic Shirley Valentine… she is a funny, brave, spirited character yet she is unfulfilled and frustrated. She challenges herself to make big changes before her life completely passes her by and I look forward to going on the rollercoaster with her!”
Manon Eames has translated the acclaimed play of the stuck-in-a-rut housewife who leaves behind her husband and seeks adventure and romance on a Greek island. She told Buzz: “The humanity, wit and pathos in the play are as relevant today as it was when Willy Russell first wrote it back in the 80s, and Shirley’s character and story are still vibrant and resonant in whatever setting: the mark of a truly great piece of writing.”
From Merthyr to Mykonos, and after months of staying at home talking to walls ourselves, Shirley Valentine promises to bring a lot of ‘hwyl’ and ‘opa’ to holiday- and theatre-starved audiences across Wales this spring.
Shirley Valentine will be at:
Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil (Thurs 3-Sat 5 Mar);
Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen (Tue 8);
Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea (Wed 9);
Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama, Cardiff (Thurs 10);
Theatr Felinfach, Dyffryn Aeron (Fri 11);
Aberystwyth Arts Centre (Sat 12);
Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon (Mon 14);
The Stiwt, Wrexham (Wed 16);
Galeri, Caernarfon (Thurs 17);
Theatr Hafren, Newtown (Fri 18),
Torch Theatre, Milford Haven (Sun 20);
Miners Institute, Blackwood (Tue 22);
Park & Dare, Treorchy (Wed 23);
The Welfare, Ystradgynlais (Thurs 24-Sat 26);
Memo Arts Centre, Barry (Tue 29);
Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl (Thurs 31 Mar + Fri 1 Apr).
Info and ticket links: here
words JAMIE REES
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