The Rise and Fall of Little Voice- Review

West Yorkshire Playhouse/Birmingham Rep production of LITTLE VOICE by Jim Cartwright directed by James Brining

West Yorkshire Playhouse/Birmingham Rep production of
LITTLE VOICE
by Jim Cartwright
directed by James Brining

Hi I’m Cari, I’ve written a review of Little Voice for my Bronze Arts Award Project where I was required to view a performance, write a review, give and share my opinion.  This is my first time writing on a blog and I thought it would be a good way of sharing my review.  I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.  Thanks.

The Review

Witty, intelligent and insightful, Little Voice has it all.

Set in a gritty working class family, where poverty and desperation appear round every turn.  The Rise and Fall of Little Voice lit up an unseen spark which remained untouched throughout the play.  Little Voice (LV) spends her time in her room, relentlessly playing her dead father’s cherished record collection, in a house which she shares with her mother, Mari. Mari is loud, crude and frequently drinks.  This automatically sets an interesting starting point, as LV is the opposite to her mother, and drowns out the emptiness she feels with the sound of her music.

The play commences with Mari getting a new phone fitted into her house.  I feel this was an excellent starting point, as it immediately sets the time concept and shows the awkward relationship between Mari and LV.  LV’s soon to be friend Billy is also introduced in this scene.  There tentative yet intimate relationship slowly blossoms throughout the play, and captivates the audience because of their unlikely friendship.

Nancy Sullivan (LV) was perfectly cast in this role, as she captures the shyness and timidness of LV, as well as the spark and desire to be heard.  Later in the show, we realise that not only does LV listen to music, she can also flawlessly impersonate the famous artists.  This is revealed when she sings to herself and her mother’s latest fling Ray Say.  Astonished and bewildered, Ray Say acts upon this and attempts to persuade LV to sing in the local cabaret.  The entirety of the play is then based upon LV mastering the courage to perform and make her father proud.

Nancy Sullivan’s beautiful singing bewitches the audience and transports you to Hollywood: a thought, I presume, that’s also on Mari’s and Ray Say’s mind.  Vicky Entwhistle complements Mari to a T.  She is a Yorkshire lass who’s larger than life and feels misplaced in the life she is living.  Her constant boozy barrier, protects her from the looming fears of poverty and isolation which is perfectly shown by her acting.

The transition from scene to scene is snippets of radio broadcast from the time; such as, Margaret Thatcher and the Miners Strike.  I feel this highlighted the struggles in that time period and related well to LV and Mari’s struggle in a working class life.  It was also well chosen, as it has an effect on audience members who lived through that time period, as well as the Tories unmistakeable effect on the social and economic structure then and now.

The set reflected a Yorkshire terrace house, it has a damaged structure and is falling apart in various places.  It contains two bedrooms, a bathroom and adjoined living and kitchen space.  Around the outside of the house were various objects, such as dart boards and broken junk.  I feel this may represent past memories of LV’s father and Mari’s old life as a constant reminder of what they don’t have.  The fractured house structure may also reflect LV and her mother’s fractured relationship.

To conclude, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a witty unmissable play currently showing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  It touches on life as a working class family in the time of the Tories reign in the 1980’s.  James Brining and Jim Cartwright have created a touching performance that makes us think about how our starting point in life affects us and how success is finding who you really are.

4 Stars.

Half Term Photo Fun – 2015 – Pattern

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I must admit I love it when the kids pick a shape for the photofun challenges as it opens up so many possibilities and interpretations and this was definitely the case with their choice of pattern for halftermphotofun.  It’s almost impossible not to look up (or down) and see some sort of pattern, be that in nature, architecture, or something you have just created, and this was clearly reflected in the range of photos that were sent in.  I must admit however that I was scratching my head for a bit with the photos of Pat Butcher and a Tern that came in from the same person until of course you put them together.  It got me thinking generally about pattern and patterns and how our everyday lives are themselves a pattern of similar routines stitched together into one narrative and I’d have liked to have somehow seen a graphical representation of my life as a pattern.

Do click on the gallery to open it then you can scroll through the photos as they came in, which ones do you like ? and can you spot the mushroom which I really liked.  Be they regimented or random I thought that this was a great selection that you all sent in, and as always thanks so much to all of you who took part.

The next one we do will be the main one where it all started #summerphotofun running for 6 weeks over the summer.  Keep your eyes on my twitter @ianstreet67 or the hashtag and play along with us.

Easter Photo Fun 2015 – Week 2 – Symbol

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I thought the kids picked two great themes over the Easter holidays, firstly with Point and then with the theme of Symbol for the second week, a theme that was so open and of course you did not disappoint by sending in all sorts of interpretations.  When you think about it symbols are everywhere around us, guiding us on everything from finding our way around maps to the washing instructions in our smalls, there are totemic symbols of power and powerful symbols of peace or revolution.  As I’m writing this each letter is of course a symbol that combined provides us with our written word which is perhaps the most powerful symbol of all as it contains within it the passport to the combined weight of human knowledge.  Not bad for a collection of marks.

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed across the week and for taking part and playing along with our social photography themes, it really is appreciated.  Do click on the gallery so that you can flick through the photos as they were sent in and let us know which ones you liked.  Can you spot all the symbols?  We’ll be back for halftermphofofun in June before the big one over the summer if people still want to play along.

 

Easter Photo Fun 2015 – Week 1 – Point

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Point has been the first theme for the two weeks of EasterPhotoFun set by the kids and as always you have sent in some lovely interpretations, some very obvious points others indicating low points for example.  I loved the railway point, knitting needles, ballet shoes, pens/pencils and must give a biased shout out to one of my kids for her photo of the picture frames that I thought was a really good interpretation.

However my fav was I think the photo of Verity, the mammoth 20m sculpture by Damien Hirst that looks over Ilfracombe harbour.  A pregnant woman, holding the scales of justice, standing on a pile of books and wielding a large sword.  This was the largest sculpture in Britain when it was put up in 2012.  I’ve never seen it in the flesh but standing higher than the Angel of the North this must be some sight.  Whenever I see things like this it always makes me angry that Leeds turned down the option to have our own massive brick man sculpture (before the Angel of the North) that was proposed by Anthony Gormley.  However Verity is surely the most perfect interpretation of point, not least of course from the sword in her hand but from the viewpoint that many people will have of this and other modern art when they ask what’s the point.

As always many thanks for all who have chipped in with your interpretations it’s been a really fun week.  Do click on the gallery and you can scroll through the pictures in the size they came in.  Do let us know which ones you liked.

Lunchtime Ride (aka The Snail goes looking for wiggly hips)

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Plenty of people manage to pack in a bit of exercise during their lunchtime, fitness classes, gym session, run, swim or just get out and have a stroll about but it’s tricky to fit in a bit of mountain biking.  My working environment has changed to one of hot desking and home working at times and the other day I’d been out at meetings in the morning and found myself back home at lunchtime, so I grabbed the bike and headed to the woods for a blast about and a bit of practice.

I feel my riding is a bit weirdy inbetweeny at the moment, I know that I have improved and am not completely useless but at the same time my mind is full of demons, no confidence and still got a lot to work on skills wise.  Still that’s all part of the fun and I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of testing myself in my own small way and the search for my own personal flowy holy grail.

Recently out riding with Rob he said that I was unrecognisable from where I was a year ago (I hope he meant my riding :-)) but having the good fortune to ride with him and others it gives me lots of things to watch and think about working on.  One of the biggest I’ve been thinking about recently is that I’m a scaredy cat unconfident rider which translates to stiffness on the bike, knowing that you are stiff on the bike though and trying to get yourself to relax are two very different things but I’ve been thinking about hips recently.  I’m more robot than Elvis so I’ve been riding with Jack Black from school of rock in my head – “Loosey Goosey Baby, Loosey Goosey” and to try and point my belly button where I want to go as when relaxed my hips will turn.  There is a danger that I’m overthinking this of course but it was useful to spend an hour really trying to think and practice this approach.  A couple of times I definitely got it right and then of course as things got a bit quicker I saw the tree I was heading towards, stiffened up and grabbed the brakes.

Still it was a highly pleasurable way to spend an hours lunchtime and a great way to practice and enjoy my local woods (see photo at top) which are now starting to dry out so it means working from home will get a lot more fun over the summer.  Of course I don’t then have to think about changing when I get back to the house, just prop the bike up grab a brew and log back in, refreshed in mind and body.

The Shop Ride

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Photo Credit: Amy (@akersh91 on Instagram)

As I talked about in this post one of the great things about mountain biking is that it is fairly unique I think in enabling people of different abilities to ride together and for everyone to get a lot of enjoyment out of it.  Nothing perhaps epitomises this spirit more than The Shop Ride. Garage Bikes, my local bike shop is particularly brilliant at organising regular shop rides and huge thanks must go to Al and Sarah for doing this.  Once a month a motley crew begins to gather on a Sunday morning, I was one of the first at the shop yesterday and it was ace to watch the riders arrive in ones, twos and small groups until a pretty impressive collection of bikes and riders of all hues was arrayed outside the shop gathering bemused looks for the passing traffic and pedestrians.  As is always the way some riders I knew, others I’d seen but didn’t know and for some it was their first ride with the Garage Bikes crew.  The brilliant thing is though all are welcome, it’s a very social ride supported brilliantly by the shop, the staff ride (unless they are racing) and guide and support all comers around our local trails.

The atmosphere is always good and outside newcomers were made to feel welcome and all were chatting away and engaging in the MTB ritual otherwise known as the pre-ride faff ! and with so many riders there was some serious faffing to be done.  29 riders pitched up yesterday in the drizzle, which was on top of the ladies ride on the Saturday which also gets a good turnout and as we set off we looked like some ragged bright baggy peloton.  As we ride along I like how you can chat, get to know new people move up and down the group or just peddle along in your own thoughts but surrounded by like minded people.  We ride at an easy pace and someone rides sweeper to ensure that we all meet up at various points.  Back at the shop we all pack in for steaming mugs of coffee, tea, biscuits, rum and banter.

The shop ride is a magical thing for me, the very essence of community and what is great about MTBing and MTB riders, friendships are made and groups spin off from the ride to organise other get-togethers and adventures.  The people I’ve met through the shop rides and the riding that has resulted has hugely improved me as a rider and really enhanced my whole riding experience so I’d like to say a big thanks to the good ship Garage Bikes and all who sail in her.

 

 

Is sound a sculpture ?

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There’s been some interesting things going on around the the Henry Moore Institute recently, people chipping away at big blocks outside reducing them to dust, clay being thrown at the outside of the building so I was intrigued when I heard about a travelling wave so popped along this lunchtime to see what that was about.  Apparently all of these are part of an Event Sculpture series which encompasses sound, objects, dance, action, images.  These events happen (mostly outside the gallery) and then the results have moved into the gallery so that they now exist within a gallery space, no longer an event ?  Something like that, anyway back to sound as sculpture, I’ve heard the expression aural sculpture used to describe music and for me it fits with the sort of sound created by a band like Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogwai and of course it’s also the name of an album by The Strangers but is sound, something that you cannot see a sculpture?

The Traveling Wave  by Anthony McCall creates the sound (loudly) of an ocean that ‘crashes’ and moves through the gallery space powered by a series of space age looking speakers arrayed along the floor.  It’s strange being in Leeds, nowhere near the sea, been assailed by the sound of the ocean.  It creates feelings of times spent near the ocean, holidays and memories for me came vividly to the fore.  I did feel transported and it challenged my perception of art and sculpture and was of course as different a break as I could have had from my desk which is no bad thing at all.  I often talk to my kids about what is art and this is certainly something open for debate and I have no idea whether or not this is a sculpture after all beyond the speakers there is nothing to see.  Made me think though that’s for sure.

What was slightly odd was that alongside this there were a couple of people cavorting around the floor in various embraces and kisses, which I realised after several moments of bemusement was another event sculpture called Kiss by Tino Sehgal and then also around the gallery there was the noise of hammering – the sound of which is all that is left from the event a while ago that had large blocks chiselled away outside the gallery.  So in that case something did exist and now it doesn’t and all that is left is the sound of what happened.  Scratches head.

An utterly intriguing and thought provoking way to spend a lunchtime