The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Park Theatre
Like few great works, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a piercing drama impressively camouflaged by abrasive humour and pleasant swingy music. The touching story of a pure soul forced by the messy outside world to cash in on her musical gift is delivered seamlessly, with an unforgettable 60s soundtrack.
Little Voice (Rafaella Hutchinson) continuously listens to her father’s collection of LPs. She knows them by heart; they have become her voice. The girl – as her name foretells – is not able to speak loud, in contrast with the noisy house and neighbourhood in which she lives. But the protagonist’s singing is mesmerising: LV borrows words and strength from the voices of the records. Her mother Mari (Sally George) treats her daughter with the minimum of care, that is until one of her friends realises the girl has true – and profitable – talent, worth exposing to the crowd at the club.
The plot of difficult family relationships develops within a script that is deeper than it first appears. The complex characters evolve and connect through colourful language and stereotyped features only rarely surface, with the different personalities brought together and clashing like mad pieces of a puzzle that desperately tries to resolve itself in the end.
The shrieking entrance of George at the very beginning sets the tone for what is going to be a loud show. Her bold makeup, alcoholism and coarse expressions constitute the shell of Mari. However, what gives this character a unique vitality is the actress’s truly vibrant undertaking of the part.
The first-ever real-life mother-daughter pairing to play the female protagonists bring a special chemistry to the stage. Hutchinson at times risks falling into an excessive clam-like attitude, but as the show goes on, her performance strikes the right chord: the wary eyes and the shaking complete the figure of a girl who is suffering violence – a representation which resonates with all ages.
A lot would be lost without the humorous interpretations of Prendergast and McMonagle. The quiet and soft presence of Linford Johnson (as Billy) and Jamie-Rose Monk (as Sadie) is almost painfully endearing in the careless environment in which they are placed.
The two-floor set design, complete with the perfect lighting, does wonders.
This bracing reenactment of Jim Cartwright’s 1992 play brilliantly embodies the harsh and moving realities of the miserable and misunderstood lives of its protagonists, artfully amalgamated with uplifting music and comedy.
Photo: Ali Wright
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is at Park Theatre from 16th August until 15th September 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.