The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – A Review

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice tells the story of a young working class girl, growing up in the North of England. After the death of her father, Little Voice retreats to the sanctity of her room to escape her abusive alcoholic mother and listen to classic records.

Consistently berated and talked over by everyone near her, LV learns to use her voice to mimic the singers she listens to and speaks through them in place of her own voice.
Her talent is soon picked up by a local agent her mother is dating, who strives to put her on stage but who also takes advantage of LV and pushes her to borderline insanity. Her only respite being a local telephone installer who is building a light show in his shed and occasionally climbs up to her window.

The production is brash, loud and at times a little jarring in its attempt to make some quite horrifying actions comedic. We were very impressed by the set, taking you inside an 80s terrace on the gritty northern streets and the performances at Mr Boo’s club instantly transport you back to every working man’s club you have ever been to. Although there were parts that were funny, some of the dialogue felt labored and the show could easily have been a half hour shorter without much being lost. There were also multiple parts where a cast member threw up on themselves which was an interesting choice.

Christina Bianco shines in the few chances where she does take center stage – namely when LV is performing her impressions. It was like watching Judy Garland, Barbra Striesand and Julie Andrews. The movements, facial expressions were almost exact. Shobna Gulati was incredibly good at playing the drunken disparaging Mari Hoff, with Ian Kelsey playing an equally slimy Ray Say with gusto.

Although it is published at ‘uplifting’ there’s a darkness to LV that stops it from ever quite going beyond bittersweet. But I suspect this is a marketing error, rather than a writing one. If you love your soaps then it is the play for you. It’s not a happy story, it’s a drama, a sad story with some very good impressions. As one audience member commented as they were leaving ‘well.. Erm.. it wasn’t really what I was expecting. But she was very good at singing those songs’.

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