Review: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

PUBLISHED: 16:36 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:36 29 August 2018

Jamie-Rose Monk in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre. Photo by Ali Wright

Jamie-Rose Monk in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre. Photo by Ali Wright

Archant

There’s no such thing as a dead cert in theatreland. No matter how bulletproof the material might seem (through reputation or otherwise), there is always the potential for it to flounder on the banks of poor execution, woeful miscasting and meandering direction.

Rafaella Hutchinson in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre. Photo by Ali WrightRafaella Hutchinson in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre. Photo by Ali Wright

2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of Mark Herman’s much-loved film of Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. You could be forgiven for treading with a degree of trepidation towards Park Theatre’s revival, fearing that such an ambitious restaging might fall foul of its own grand ambition. You need not worry.

For those unfamiliar, Little Voice (Rafaella Hutchinson) is a meek mannered girl entranced by the epic romanticism of old-fashioned records and the starry, starry lights of finger-clicking old-school orchestral pop. It is up in the haven of her bedroom that ‘LV’ escapes the domineering whirlwind that is her biological mum Mari (Sally George): a mother often found pirouetting around the living room inebriated, spewing forth sexual innuendos to all and sundry.

When it comes to love, however, Mari exhibits a teenager’s giddiness. Desperate to get down and dirty with local Svengali Ray Say (Kevin McMonagle), she fails to realise that the sonorous chirruping of her daughter lights up Ray’s opportunistic eyes. Spotting a meal ticket, soon the rapacious attentions of all thrust this talented gal reluctantly into the spotlight.

Whilst the landline telephone predicament that kickstarts the play might seem as ancient to the modern observer as the penny farthing, Cartwright’s bittersweet comedy feels timeless. This is material couched in the dreamy aspiration for social mobility that fuels some of these Isles’ most potent dramas. It is flawlessly executed in Tom Latter’s direction and his cast’s faultless retelling.

Sally George in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre. Photo by Ali WrightSally George in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre. Photo by Ali Wright

Marking a first for this work, George and Hutchinson are a true-life mother and daughter, and this familial chemistry shows. Anita Dobson peers over proceedings as the associate producer and the whole production oozes pedigree from every pore.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is laced so abundantly and intricately with witty one-liners that any stony-faced resistance is rendered utterly futile. This side-splitting riot of a play is a flat-out, thigh-slapping, must-see.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice runs until Saturday September 15 at Park Theatre. Click here for more details and tickets

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