The jokes land with a sure-footed "bang!" And yet this tale of a misused wife and mother, living a life in the shadow of a demanding husband and children, also provokes laughs and nods and groans from the women in the audience (and from me, too) in this selfless, plucky, "carry on" performance.
And then one day ...
Her friend Jane buys two tickets for a fortnight in Greeceand Shirley Valentine begins to realize the complicated web she's caught in, even with a pair of grown children and a husband who seems utterly unwilling to admit he can't live without her. Watching her struggle to get out of that spider's web is a marvel of heartfelt, detailed acting, and intricate character-building by Ms. Doggett, her director Ms. Matthews, and playwright Willy Russell.
If you've seen the 1989 movie, well, forget it. It was "opened-up" so much it lost its charm, compared to this genuinely enthralling one-woman show. Part of the whole miracle of her emergence from a chrysalis as a butterfly is getting into the shuttered existence of this 42-year-old woman and, thanks to Ms. Doggett's performance, we do indeed.
It's funny, I usually hate reviewing one-person shows, but this one has so much going on inside, and so much ground to cover, and it becomes such an emotional "rags to riches" story, that I feel I could talk about it all night. Ms. Doggett just has that English actor's gift for filling up a thousand little moments with beautiful detail and soulful meaning. It's a valentine to everyone who stands and waits, and fetches and carries, and soothes and worries, all in one most excellent evening.
I know you're supposed to take these things for granted, but the simple-but-serviceable set, with all its detailed set-dec, turns to a quiet paradise. And the light plot and execution are subtle and elegant, all in aid of the transformation.
Through March 16, 2014, at the south end of Chesterfield Mall, second floor by Sears. For more information: www.dramaticlicenseproductions.org.
Sound Design: Michael B. Perkins