This production is in rep with Educating Rita, and the two make an interest contrast. I’m glad I saw Rita first, as I quickly realised Shirley is a vastly superior play. It’s written with such delicate anguish; the character of Rita is only very lightly fleshed out in comparison with Shirley. And with it being a one woman show, where all the other characters come to life by her account of them, it’s reminiscent of that old saying that radio is better than tv because the pictures are better. This play exercises our imaginations in a most rewarding way.
And then we have Meera Syal. Wow. What a performance. She doth bestride the stage like a colossus. She does run the gamut from A-Z. But primarily, the way she connects with the audience is absolutely superb. You quickly forget this is a play – you really believe she is taking you privately into her confidence. And technically, it’s brilliant. Acting and using props at the same time is a big ask. Cooking a full meal and acting is beyond the call of duty!
Whole hearted recommendation. I don’t suppose it will transfer but it’s a real tour-de-force.