West Yorkshire Playhouse/Birmingham Rep production of
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.
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.