You’ve got to love a woman who designs and build costumes for probably half of the St. Louis theatre scene and does the same for the Dramatic License Production of “Shirley Valentine.” But this time, she’s designing for herself in the Willy Russell one-woman comedy that is as hilarious as it is uplifting. Mired down by the “life too ordinary” syndrome that affects so many marriages, Shirley becomes daring, risqué and even a bit naughty as she takes off from her drab Liverpool life and travels to Greece with her friend. Turns out, what happens in Greece, stays in Greece- and so does Shirley Valentine.
Doubtful at first, the final straw in her need in pursuing the lust for life comes when she decides to feed a hungry dog the steak that has become the traditional meal for once a week supper and serves hubby eggs and chips instead. His overreaction spurs her on to pack her bags and leave with her friend for a three week vacation. Ms. Doggett is simply perfection as she talks to us (and her favorite kitchen wall) about her hubby, her two kids and tells us hysterical tales about all of them. Her reenactment of her son’s grade school interpretation of Joseph and the search for lodging for the night is a masterpiece. But all of her stories are priceless and she brings them all to brilliant life. All the while she’s putting up groceries, opening and drinking a lot of wine and even cooking on a practical stove that gives the audience a healthy aroma of those eggs and chips.
In the second act, she’s in Greece and the stories again come fast and furious. She opens with the line, “Bet you didn’t recognize me,” and she’s right. Ms. Doggett takes on a whole new persona to meet the relaxed atmosphere and lifestyle she is now enjoying on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds and we feel it as an audience member. The whole show, her optimism and the joyous spirit of Shirley Valentine come through all night long. It’s wonderful to behold and makes for one of the most exhilarating plays you’ll ever experience.
Director Lee Anne Mathews keeps that flighty, easy-going feeling up with a fast-paced but somehow laid-back nature to Shirley that makes you always feel you’re right there with her. The marvelous Matthew Stuckel set design is impressive evoking the small, cramped space that is Shirely’s apartment kitchen in the first act and then opens up for the spacious, airy feeling of Greece for her second act adventures. The Max Parrilla lights also show the contrasts of the two acts.
A bravura performance by Teresa Doggett and the feel good script that we haven’t seen for a while just remind us why there’s nothing like live theatre. Visit Dramatic License Productions in Chesterfield Mall and get your “Shirley Valentine” on. It plays through March 16th. Call DLP at 636-821-1746 for tickets or more information.