by Jim Cartwright.

Octagon Theatre
Octagon Theatre Howell Croft South BL1 1SB To 30 June 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 01204 520661.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 June.

Revels in raucous comedy.
LV stands for Little voice, not Luncheon Voucher, as it might once have done. But the shy girl who suddenly belts out the repertoire of Garland, Bassey or Gracie Fields in their own voices, learned from the vinyl LP collection her beloved dad left her, is seen as a meal ticket by others. Ignored by her loud-mouthed, ever-talking mother Mari, artistes’ agent Ray Say and club manager Mr Boo see her commercial potential.

Alongside Mari’s volubility stands the cruelty of her friendship with outsize, drop-by neighbour Sadie, vocabulary largely limited to a compliant “OK”. Sadie’s size and simplicity hover on the dangerous edge between sympathy and ridicule. And LV’s equally silent, but electrically creative new friend, Billy, who helps put the new ‘phone in (Mari: “Are you the ‘phone Bill?”) can be sympathetic or frustrating with his perpetual shyness.

LV provides her own dignity, her silence being a defence that can turn aggressive – Katie Elin-Salt in this Octagon revival makes the point that the sullenness covers a murmuring truculence which is all too understandable. Yet her mother, too, is exploited by men; Sue Devaney’s Mari throws herself awkwardly around the furniture in the excitement of finding a man – Devaney is a fireball, as energetic and thoughtless in physicality as in vocabulary – only to be cast aside by Ray.

He can be very patient with LV because he can make his career from her. Matt Healy’s agent ignores Mari’s existence, let alone her feelings, when it doesn’t suit him, while sucking up to Max Beesley Snr’s unusually unassertive Boo.

Cartwright’s not one to hold back on linguistic flourishes, as some of these names show. His verbal extravaganzas (Mari never visits the café, but the caff caff, her ‘phone doesn’t start ringing, but trilling) are a kind of aural theatricality. And effects that startle can come to seem stale with time or repetition.

All together, Elizabeth Newman’s production works best when it plays up to the colour comic-strip of Cartwright’s play; at other times, not helped by staging restrictions at the Octagon, the play’s threads are beginning to seem bare.

Sadie: Sally Bankes.
Mr Boo: Max Beesley Snr.
Billy: Paul-Ryan Carberry.
Mari: Sue Devaney.
LV: Katie Elin-Salt.
Ray Say: Matt Healy.
‘Phone Man/Jean: Adam Keast.
Manolio: Louise Querelle.

Director: Elizabeth Newman.
Designer: Ciaran Bagnall.
Lighting: Chris Hirst.
Sound: Andy Smith.
Musical Director: Howard Gray.
Movement: Lesley Hutchison.
Costume: Mary Horan.

2012-06-26 01:28:18

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