THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE
by Jim Cartwright.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 412 4663.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 October.
Shining surfaces but how much depth?
There’s something for everyone here: Lesley Sharp’s acting, Diana Vickers’ singing, Tony Haygarth’s wig. All, in some way, over the top. The Haygarth rug’s deep-bronzed atop club manager Lou Boo’s head, while Little Voice is stuck in her own world, her bedroom from which, in a modern-day Rapunzel variation, ‘phone–man Billy rescues her by cherry-picker.
Though withdrawn, LV can gloriously re-create the singing voices of popular divas, from Garland to Bassey and beyond. Writer Jim Cartwright introduces this slowly, until the second act erupts into a club act that puts most of what follows in the shade.
That’s somewhere nobody could place Lesley Sharp’s Mari, LV’s mother. She’s the most prominent with Cartwright’s flavour-enhanced dialogue, unselfconsciously spouting wit and imagery. So loud she leaves her daughter no space, banging on the ceiling when LV plays the beloved records her dear, departed dad left behind.
Never act with children or animals – or play a part created by Alison Steadman, the first Mrs Hoff. But, in Sharp, director Terry Johnson has someone equally distinctive, slithering mermaid-like across the furniture, living at high-voltage (with her home’s dodgy electrics, sparks fly several ways) and maximum volume.
With Mari what you hear is what you get. Yelping or furious, every emotion sugar-rushes to the surface. Mari’s assertiveness fills the space as, drunk, she drags herself through the front-door in a series of effortful movements.
Sugar’s what outsized neighbour Sadie takes to extremes. Rachel Lumberg stands her dramatic ground, swallowing Mari’s insults, doing the splits, running upstairs, carrying LV in a performance that tests physical limitations as much as Sharp’s tenses the vocal chords.
Amid them Marc Warren’s straight-man Ray is strangely sympathetic as he exploits mother and daughter. Perhaps a glimpse of sociability amid the loud middle-aged and reticent young (Billy’s as shy as LV) goes some way to explain this.
But, is it play, concert or circus side-show? Behind the glittering surfaces, is it any more than A Taste of Honey with cabaret attached? Beneath the razzmatazz, Little Voice, unlike Cartwright’s Road, now seems, like its most vocal character, more style than substance.
Mari Hoff: Lesley Sharp.
Ray Say: Marc Warren.
Little Voice: Diana Vickers.
Billy: James Cartwright.
Sadie: Rachel Lumberg.
Phone Man/Manolito the Drummer: Tim Parker.
Mr Boo: Tony Haygarth.
Director: Terry Johnson.
Designer: Lez Brotherston.
Lighting: Mark Henderson.
Sound: Ian Dickinson forAutograph.
Composers: Ben and Max Ringham.
Musical Supervisor: Nigel Lilley.
Choreographer: Lynne Page.
Fight director:: Terry King.
Voice coach/Assistant director: Alison McKinnon.
Singing coach: Mary Hammond.
Associate sound: Avgoustos Psillas forAutograph.