The omnipresent glass of white wine rarely out of reach for DeeDee Rescher's English matron is a perfect metaphor for the title character in Willy Russell's solo piece, which premiered in 1988. Stuck in a drab kitchen in Liverpool, Shirley Valentine, like her favorite libation, sparkles amidst her unremarkable surroundings: a grumpy, detached husband; adult children who only come home when they need something; nosy neighbors trying to escape their own pedestrian lives. Valentine's bright eyes, winsome smile and lively manner cut through the beige of it all, as she recounts stories from her life and dreams of someday drinking wine "in a country where the grape is grown." As luck would have it, her friend Jane has offered her a trip to Greece, but Valentine spends the first act working up the courage because, as she admits to the wall she frequently engages in conversion, she's frightened of life beyond it. While steeling her resolve, she putters about her kitchen, cooking, drinking and sharing — a fluidity of movement that's a credit to Andrew Barnicle's subtle direction. Russell's writing, with its strong feminist undercurrent, picks up in the second act, and both Rescher and Bruce Goodrich's wonderfully detailed set undergo a real transformation. Valentine's newfound joie de vivre makes her an even more charming and warm raconteur, as captivating as the message she delivers about really living life. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; through March 3. (818) 955-8101, falcontheatre.com.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: Feb. 8. Continues through March 3, 2013