SHIRLEY VALENTINE at Cinnabar a must see

SHIRLEY VALENTINE: Solo performance by Willy Russell staring Mary Gannon Graham and directed by John Shillington. Cinnabar Theater. 3333 N. Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma. begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 707.763.8920 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or May 29 – June 12, 2011.

SHIRLEY VALENTINE at Cinnabar highlighted by Mary Gannon-Graham

Mary Gannon-Graham who gave an award winning performance as Patsy Cline in Always. . .Patsy Cline at the 6th Street Playhouse in 2010 returns to Cinnabar Theater to reprieve the role of Shirley Valentine that she performed in 2008 under John Shillington’s direction. Gannon-Graham sheds any personal traits to become the title character in this solo performance.

Actually, it is hardly a solo show since she creates a dozen other off stage characters with her deft voice intonations and nuanced body movements. They include neighbors, childhood companions, ungrateful son and daughter and boorish husband Joe Bradshaw to name a few. Not only is her acting award worthy but she has also mastered English/Liverpool dialect and you see her not as an actor but as the British middle-aged, working class housewife named Mrs. Bradshaw hiding the subjugated soul of Shirley Valentine.

Mary Gannon-Moore projects the unassuming air of Shirley’s station in life yet radiates a hidden sense of humor with her facial expressions. In the first scene as she busies herself preparing dinner of chips and eggs she delivers her relaxed monologue and copiously savors white wine poured from a screw-top bottle. Not only has she come to enjoy the pleasures of wine, she also discovers her over-bearing, talking to the fridge boorish husband Joe knows nothing about the clitoris thus hardly making sex enjoyable. She also meets a much admired, well-traveled, wealthy chum who bluntly states, “An Air-hostess? Hardly, I’m a hooker.”

Over time Shirley has recognized the dullness of her life but with the shake of her head has come to accept the comedy of it all. But that airline ticket to Greece has sparked an inner desire, similar to her childhood dare to jump off a roof, and her inner self struggles to come out. Being too afraid to ask Joe’s permission she secretly prepares for the trip. Act one ends with new lingerie purchased, a real silk dressing gown given to her by a neighbor and with bags packed, hat jauntily perched on her head she goes out the door. In Greece she has life changing experiences and we cheer for Shirley where she reconnects with pubescent past that was only hidden and not lost.

Shillington directs with nuanced skill and allows the show to flow on Jay Lasnik pitch perfect sets all appreciated by the sold out audience.

Kedar K Adour, MD

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