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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
Shirley find herself trapped by the walls which become her closest confidant when unkind husband Joe ignores her except to yell when his dinner's not on time. When he's angry, Shirley says, Joe talks to the refrigerator, but things weren't always this way which has her wondering what happened to them and to the youthful girl with the maiden name of Valentine who used to dream of travelling.
When a chance to venture beyond the walls of her humdrum house presents itself in the form of a friend's offer to take her to Greece, she packs her bags, resists the urge to stay behind to help her struggling daughter who has suddenly moved back home and sneaks off for the adventure of a lifetime.
Trading the walls of her house for a rock on the beach brings sexual fulfillment thanks to a lover she nicknames Christopher Columbus and reclaims a bit of the person she used to be before resigning herself to her Liverpool life. The question raised: Will anyone even notice if she doesn't go back home?
Just as Shirley transforms into a self-confident, happy individual, Frank Albering set (lighted by Rui Rita) changes from the drab house to an expansive, sunny, rocky beach. Wave sound effects (Ryan Rumery, design) complete the effect.
Ivey gives a strong, emotional performance in the memorization tour-de force (the one-woman show's first act alone is 90 minutes long). She has the audience routing for her throughout. Unfortunately director Gordon Edelstein fails to coax multiples layers i from the performance so that there isn't enough of a difference between the lost Shirley we first meet and the new Shirley in Greece, though both are engaging. Having Ivey indicate the specific wall and rocks she's addressing tends to be confusing, especially in some instances when when the actress addresses the audience and actually plays off its reaction. If she's supposed to be talking to the wall or the rock, then d why is she talking to us? On a more positive note, some Ivey's actually cooking her husband's delicious-smelling dinner of eggs and "chips,", the English term for French fries, adds to the fun, and a beat-bopping stage hand who clears the meal away between scenes. The concessions people at Long Wharf would do well if they sold French fries at intermission.