Tuesday, 25 September 2012

THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE (UK Tour) Review September 2012

Walking into the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre was very different last night. There was a particular buzz in the air, excitement. Jim Cartwright's 1992 play The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice was about to make it's Wolverhampton debut. Mr Boo (Duggie Brown) was on hand in the foyer to greet the audience and usher them to their seats. The theatre had been transformed into a working mens club and as a pre-show we were treated to a tap routine from Ceris Hine and a female George Formby act by Lisa Howard as Dolly on the ukulele.

The pre-show seamlessly fuses into the play where we meet Mari Hoff (Beverley Callard), a loud northern housewife who is all "lacquer and liquor". After years of playing Liz McDonald in Coronation Street, Beverley Callard is back on stage and it is where she truly shines. She is an absolute joy to watch. Mari's daughter Little Voice, or 'LV' (Jess Robinson) couldn't be more opposite in character to her mother. She is a quiet, reserved young girl who spends most of her time alone in her bedroom listening to her records. The play belongs to these two characters, both are given so much to work with. When we first hear Little Voice begin to sing it's magical, the audience love her - as does Billy (Ray Quinn) who tirelessly and very charmingly tries to win the heart of LV, not always discreetly.

The supporting cast is made up of Joe McGann as Ray Say and Sally Plumb as Sadie. Ray's intentions soon become apparent in a dark twist that Joe McGann manages to switch upon Mari. The argument scene between Ray and LV is possibly the highlight of the show in which all of LV's comebacks are snippets from songs. Sadie provides much of the physical humour in the play and her presence on stage is heartwarming. Sally Plumb lends a sweet, innocence to the character, almost child-like at times and she is very endearing to watch. 

The set by Morgan Large is incredible. A two story house on stage with clever walls that become transparent to suggest a change in location, or to create some of the special effects in the climax to the show. Every element of this show gels together perfectly to create the most wonderful piece of theatre. This really is the highlight of the theatrical year so far. I cannot think of anything to say against this production. It is quite rare to see an audience on their feet giving a full standing ovation after a play - but this feels so much more than just that. It had the warm feeling of a musical, which at times it could well be and the dark twists of only the best-written plays. The show, which is far from "crappety", offers value for every penny of the ticket price - a must-see that anyone would be mad to miss. 

The show runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 29th September and then continues on a UK tour until December. You can book tickets for the Wolverhampton dates here: http://grandtheatre.info/WhatsOn_focus.asp?ShowId=609&sC=page10 and young persons standby tickets are available for 16 - 25 year olds (with valid proof of age) for £5 from the box office 15 minutes before each show. 

(With Beverley Callard after the show)

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