Sheridan Smith gives a stunning performance as Shirley Valentine and has the audience eating out of her hands

Normally, listening to a Scouse housewife lament about her life for two hours would be a cruel version of hell.

But when Sheridan Smith took on the role of Shirley Valentine in the West End, she turned it into something magical.

© Helen Murray 2023Sheridan carries the play on her own with total ease[/caption]

The play, written by Willy Russell, sees Shirley talk about how fed up she is with her life until a friend wins a fortnight in Greece and she agrees to go with her. The trip is, unsurprisingly, life-changing.

Sheridan does the play solo, as it is meant to be. It’s a hard task to put on anyone’s shoulders, but the actress defeats that challenge with ease.

Her scouse accent doesn’t slip, except when she mimics other characters that she talks about in the play.

Each quick voice change makes her come alive as a wholly different person before Shirley returns and takes over.

From beginning to end, you join Sheridan on the rollercoaster of emotions from sadness to rolling belly laughs.

She has the audience in the palm of her hands. And boy does she know it.

JohnWilson2023She has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand with ease[/caption]

Her comedic chops are on full display as she lands dirty jokes, ridiculous tales and naughty tales with utter ease.

At one point she struggles to hold in her own laughter at the reaction of the audience.

Instead of seeming unprofessional, it makes the experience more intimate. We’re all in on a private joke.

I reckon it might just be the performance of her career. It’s certainly her performance of this decade so far.

Shirley Valentine

The Duke of York Theatre, London