The play Shirley Valentine is written by Willy Russell and it is about her path to self-discovery. Shirley Bradshaw, who was known as Shirley Valentine, is a bored middle-aged housewife living in Liverpool in a small semi-detached house. Shirley who lives with her husband Joe is now in her early forties, with her children having now left her, she feels unhappy and unfulfilled. By the end of the play we see Shirley has changed and she is no longer bore, that her life is full of excitement as she has gone to Greece and met a man.
All throughout the play we see Willy Russell use different dramatic techniques. At the start we see her talking to herself, to us the audience. He does this to show us what Shirley is thinking and feeling, which is that she is very lonely even though she has a husband.
At the beginning of the play we see Shirley first talk; we see her talking to the wall, “Hello Wall”. This shows us that she is so bored out of her mind that she resorts to talking to the wall. As she is talking to the wall this shows the audience that she is very lonely and this makes the audience sympathetic to Shirley. Another technique that the author uses in the play is that as this play is a monolog it is only herself talking and there is no-one else, just like in her life, she is telling the audience things but she is directing it at the wall, “Don’t I wall?”
The author use the time this play is set in and gives her the accent of the place that she’s in and the time, he does this by not making her words full and he makes them abbreviated, “Y’ know” and “hours an’ all’s y’d hear” the author does this to show that Shirley is a normal woman who is in no higher class than anyone else. This shows the audience that the play is as if she knows you are there and is talking to you as a friend and doesn’t have to put anything fake on. Another way the author show you that she is just talking to you is when Shirley says thing like “She said” she says this because this is what a person you met in the street would say to you.
Later in the play Shirley in the town shopping and it is raining, and she is walking by the road, a car splashes water onto Shirley, a woman climbs out of the car and say sorry to Shirley. This woman that splashed Shirley was called Marjorie Majors. Before this part of the play we are told who Marjorie is, she was a girl who went to the same school as Shirley be was smarter than her. Shirley never liked Marjorie because she felt like everyone saw Marjorie as a better person than her because she had elocution lesions. When she met she thought that she was just going to rub it in that she had done better than her in life, “Well Marjorie, you’ve waited a long time for your revenge but you’ve got me now good style now haven’t y’?
As she is thinking this it shows the audience that Shirley is always waiting for someone to bring her down. Just like when Shirley was at school, her headmaster use to ask the full school in an assembly questions for points, the teacher once said, “What is mans greatest invention.” As Shirley is young she was full of confidence, so she put her hand up as no-one else knew the answer, the teacher was the person who brought her down the most, on that day the teacher said, “Oh put your hand down Shirley, you won’t know the answer.” The author writes these as they compare to make the audience feel very sorry for Shirley because they know that she does try but people always bring her back down.
Another incident that compares is where the playwright shows that as Shirley is always brought down, she shouldn’t be and she should believe in her self. He does this by showing in the play, even though the teacher told her she wouldn’t now the answer, she kept her hand up and in the end she got the question correct. (this must have been a very troubling time for Shirley as the author has show us that she can still remember that moment that was about 20 years ago) Another way the he does this is when Marjorie majors appears and this makes Shirley think she will rub it in that she has a better life than her, but she does not because Marjorie say’s, “I’m a hooker!” When she say’s this, everybody is shocked, that is why the author chooses Marjorie to say that because this shows us the audience that Shirley shouldn’t bring herself down because she is a good woman
Later in the play there is a scene where Shirley and her husband Joe are having egg and chips together. In this scene the playwright use’s the eggs and chips as a symbolism to rules for Shirley. On Thursday night Shirley and Joes usually have stake but Shirley makes him egg and chips. This symbolises that she doesn’t want to follow the routine anymore which mean’s she wants a different life now. Joe pushes the egg and chips onto Shirley, this symbolises that every time Shirley try’s to change and be free, and she is pushed back down. Also the playwright show’s that Joe sees Shirley as a nobody because the could have put the egg and chip in the bin but he did not, he just spilt it on her, this show’s the audience that people just see Shirley and other housewife’s as nothing and that they don’t need excitement in life because they don’t matter.
Later in the play Shirley does break free and she goes to Greece, she say’s in the play that she isn’t going as a mother or a wife, but as a free woman. Greece is another thing that the author uses to symbolise rules, he does this by showing us that Shirley is not allowed to go to Greece because of her husband but she still goes and has the time of her life. In Greece Shirley meets a man called Costas, she does not love Costas, she loves the fact that he makes her feel free and as Shirley valentine.
In a part of the scene Shirley and Costas are with each other in the bedroom and Costas kisses her stretch marks, the author makes this significant because Shirley doesn’t see them as stretch marks, she see them as scares which are saying that she is a mother and nothing else, but Costas doesn’t see that he sees them as part of her and that they are beautiful. The playwright did this because this shows the audience that Shirley is loved and this would make them feel reassured that Shirley has now changed from being Shirley Bradshaw back to her old self as Shirley Valentine even though she is still married and goes back to her husband at the end of the play..