I know Wednesday is supposed to be my travel writing day, but as Shirley Valentine was set in Greece, maybe I can squeak it through.
I’m trying to write a one-woman play for my nightclass, so I’ve just spent the morning reading through the script (stage version) of Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, working through the GMOTS that I mentioned in Friday’s writing post, to try and figure out how it’s done by an expert.
Shirley clearly articulates her physical goal (to drink wine in the country where the grape is trod) and emotional goal (to be Shirley Valentine again and ‘jump off the roof’) while being very conscious of the high risks (the loss of her marriage/family/friends) she will face in their pursuit. There’s no messing or tiptoeing around these goals and possible consequences. The stakes are high.
Shirley achieves both those goals, but the ending of the play is ambiguous when it comes to the risk involved. Does she manage to keep her family… or in finding herself, does she lose them?
Or was the greater stake the even smaller life she would have lived if she hadn’t had the courage to find herself?
I found a posting on the internet where someone posed the question – Did Shirley Valentine stay in Greece or did she return to England? Apparently the women who responded said she stayed, the men said she went back.
Early in the play Shirley says she remains married because she needs to – she’s terrified at the idea of facing life alone in the world beyond the wall.
But once she does go out into the big wide world perhaps that marriage isn’t as important as her self-actualization.
I don’t know for sure what happens. I think she stays in Greece for a while and then moves back to England or moves on – with Joe if he’s willing to accept Shirley Valentine, without if he needs her to be St Joan of the Fitted Units. But her life will never be the same again.
What do you think?
And is it important that the ending of a story dots all the ‘i’s’ and crosses all the ‘t’s…or can a little ambiguity sometimes be a good thing?