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IT’S been five years since Durban actress Lisa Bobbert scooped a host of awards for her title role in Kickstart’s presentation of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine, and she says she’s all set to “bring more” to her performance this time around.
In an interview with Tonight, Bobbert explained how playing Shirley was a defining moment for her career in 2008.
“Before I did Shirley Valentine I was mainly known for being from a comedy and musical background and for working with Aaron (McIlroy, also Bobbert’s husband) After Shirley, people started recognising my acting ability.”
Shirley Valentine is a taken-for-granted middle-aged housewife, with indulged children and a self-involved husband, who is caught in a menopausal rut.
One day, she finds herself talking to the kitchen wall while cooking her husband’s supper. Then a frisky girlfriend wins an all-expenses-paid holiday for two to Greece and invites Shirley along.
The journey to Greece echoes Shirley’s personal journey of affirmation and discovery, and after a fortnight in the sun she begins to see the world, and herself, in a different light.
“Shirley’s character is quite different to me, even though I’m also married and a mom,” said Bobbert.
“But she married quite young and her kids are all grown up. She’s also a cleaner and not a career woman. So in a way I didn’t relate to that.
“But in terms of the themes of rediscovering yourself, that is something anyone can relate to. Shirley goes through all these emotions and the audience goes on the journey with her.
“With the business of life it’s easy to lose that spark, and this is about rediscovery. It may start off as a bit of male bashing, because her husband is quite mentally abusive towards her, but in the end Shirley realises that it’s not just women. Life takes its toll on everyone, even men.”
Bobbert said the set design and lighting (Greg King and Tina le Roux respectively) draw the audience into the play.
“Visually it is just so beautiful. I have a fully functional kitchen so, for example, when Shirley is cooking fried chips, the audience will smell it.
“The Greece set is as if you’re there in the country, with Tina’s lighting design changing between day and night, and it feels as if you are on the beach.”
Commenting on what lies ahead, Bobbert said being more mature and having more experience, she is able to bring more to the role in the new run.
• With only 10 performances, early booking through Computicket is advised. For block bookings of 10 people or more, or sold performances and early bird specials, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places at 083 250 2690.