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Friday, September 13, 2013


(Lisa Bobbert as Shirley Valentine)

Bobbert gives a performance to savour and remember. (Review by Keith Millar)

In a word. Wow!

Durban’s phenomenal KickstArt theatre company has once again hit the jackpot. This time with the revival of their 2008 hit Shirley Valentine. A production of sheer class and style. This is as good as it gets.

Written by Willy Russell, Shirley Valentine is a gentle comedy one-hander about a middle-aged housewife whose life has fallen into a rut. Taken for granted by her family, and feeling as though the world is passing her by, she resorts to talking to the wall while she prepares her husband’s egg and chips supper.

Then a friend offers her an all-expenses paid vacation to Greece. In a rare act of rebellion and daring she decides to go and embarks on a life altering journey of self discovery and affirmation.

The title role of Shirley Valentine is played by Durban favourite Lisa Bobbert. She is a dramatic actress, a singer/dancer, a comedienne, a mimic, a wife and mother and more recently a motivational speaker. Bobbert is an absolute force of nature.

She brings all her considerable personality and charm to bear in her sparkling portrayal of Shirley Valentine. Using considerable skill and impeccable timing she perfectly captures the essence of this complex character. From beginning to end Bobbert is Shirley Valentine. It is a performance to savour and to remember.

The production is designed by Greg King. One has come to expect that when King is involved, the sets will be something special. With Shirley Valentine he does not disappoint.  The story begins in a beautifully designed and fully-functional kitchen where the husband’s supper of chips and eggs are prepared in reality. The aroma of cooking food wafting across the theatre is very evocative and adds a great sense of authenticity to the action.

The ambience achieved by the set depicting a tavern built on the rocks above a beach in Greece is palpable. One can almost feel the warmth of the sun and the refreshing chill of the ocean. I would have liked to hear some gentle waves lapping during this scene, but it is possible that that would have been distracting.

Lighting design is by the incomparable Tina Le Roux. Her design brings the sets to life and plays an important part in the telling of the story as the action moves from day to night.

The very talented and experienced Steven Stead is the director of this outstanding production. It certainly bears the stamp of his elegant and graceful style.

All of the above are multi-award winning theatre practitioners and I would not be at all surprised if more recognition was not due for this wonderful production. Kickstart has once again proved that they are the A team of Durban theatre.

Shirley Valentine is a world class production. Miss it and you will seriously miss out.

Shirley Valentine runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30 nightly until September 22. Booking is at Computicket. For block bookings of 10 or more, or sold performances, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places on 083 250 2690 or email: – Keith Millar