The Rise and Fall of Little Voice,
The Mission Theatre
Review Date: 8th September 2015
Running time: 2hr 30min
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, by Jim Cartwright, is at times very funny, sweet and moving. Little Voice’s father is dead and all she has to remind herself of him is his records, which she plays when she is upset. In her bedroom, she perfects impersonations of the singers in her dad’s collection. Mari, her drunken, slovenly mother does not understand her daughter’s pain. When Mari meets Ray, a small time agent, she is delighted that he takes an interest in her and her daughter. Ray pushes LV into singing in a local club, in the hope that she will earn money and possibly fame. Neither adult considers LV’s wishes or her mental state in the pursuit of fame and riches.
Mari is played with raucous abandon by Kay Francksen.
Claire Ryan plays LV with wide-eyed innocence and shoulder-drooping shyness. Her transformation into a cabaret singer is all the more surprising and dramatic. Ryan’s voice, timid and mouse-like when speaking, is powerful in song. Little Voice is her nickname from childhood which suggests her reticence to speak has been a life-long issue. She finds her voice through song.
Billy (Tom Ash-Miles) is smitten with LV but, like her, struggles to put his feelings into words. Tom Ash-Miles’ portrayal of young and tongue-tied awkwardness is utterly convincing. There are some genuinely touching moments in this performance, mostly when LV and Billy speak or rather struggle to speak. Both actors’ body language and gestures hint at passion restrained.
Steve Huggins as Ray Say and Dave Pascoe-Clarke multi-roling as Phone Man and Mr Boo ably provide their supporting roles.
The set design is detailed. Mismatched furniture and broken household items stand testament to the mother’s fecklessness. The staging combines LV’s bedroom, living room, outside the house and also the cabaret club – with the different locations being distinct and lending shape to the performance. The costumes are perfect. Mari’s all gold lame and tartiness while LV shrinks in her PJs yet lights up the stage in her sparkly number.
The lighting, sound and special effects are impressive. The whole piece builds to a dramatic show down at the end with some interesting lighting, song and set design.
Directed by Petra Schofield, this production by Next Stage, The Mission resident company, is an enjoyable evening.