The Scotsman 4 October 2022

The first thing actor Sally Reid and director Elizabeth Newman had to decide on was the accent. Would Reid play Shirley Valentine with her native Perthshire lilt, or would she adopt the Liverpudlian tones conceived by playwright Willy Russell? “We settled on it being authentic to the story,” says Reid. “It feels so rooted in that world. I know Shirley is an everywoman and she’s everywhere, but actually, my Perth accent is quite soft and sing-songy, so we thought I might have to do an accent anyway to embed it somewhere Scottish, so we just went for the Liverpool.”

It sounds like a simple decision but it is crucial. Russell is one of those writers whose meaning lies not only in what is said but in how his characters say it. The worldview, the working-class sensibility and the humour are all locked into the speech patterns. The dilemma of Shirley Valentine, a 40-something housewife who swaps domestic drudgery for a holiday in Greece, continues to resonate but she exists in a specific time and place. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).