Entertainment Theatre Shaleen Sparkles as Shirley

Shaleen Sparkles as Shirley

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Shaleen Surtie-Richardís mesmerizes audiences with a powerhouse performance of Shirley Valentine at the Baxter.

In fact her performances was so accomplished, I preferred it to the original film version - and am pretty sure she would even have outperformed Pauline Collins, who played the character on stage (and in the film version).

Shirley Valentyn is a normal housewifeís story of lost opportunities, regret and the heart-warming journey to reclaim oneís identity and life. Taking place over three acts, the first two see Shirley in the kitchen reminiscing about life, while having a conversation with her kitchen wall (muurtjie) and taking the bold leap to travel to Greece on holiday with a friend. In the final act we find Shirley on a beach in Greece, sharing her escapades and newfound love of life (and clitoris) with the audience.

While the original Shirley Valentyn boasted a heavy cockney accent, the local version, magnificently translated into Afrikaans by Hennie van Greunen, brings very distinct local flavour and colour to the production. Audiences can look forward to a very strong script superbly performed by one of South Africaís finest actors, who brings a sense of realism to the role rarely seen on stage. When I wasnít laughing with Shirley, I wanted to climb onto the stage and comfort her.

The year is only a month old, but I think Iíve already seen one of the best performances of the year. Letís see if Iím right in December.

Shirley Valentyn is on at the Baxter Studio from 31 January to 18 February. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7pm, with matinee performances Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are R100.

If youíve seen Shirley Valentyn at the Baxter, please post your comments below