Review: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Jess Robinson as Little Voice.  Photo: Paul Coltas
Jess Robinson as Little Voice. Photo: Paul Coltas
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Futurist Theatre, Scarborough

It would be fairly easy to make an argument against this play ever being staged again. It was so wildly popular when it debuted – at the National Theatre, no less – that it seems a little futile to stage it again. Add in the director (Sam Mendes) and the star (Jane Horrocks) and you have pretty much a perfect recipe, and attempt at replication can surely only pale in comparison.

The very good reason to have this play revitalised and restaged, however, is that it is directed here for the first time by writer Jim Cartwright. Studied at GCSE and degree level, Cartwright has reached the status of literary hero, but he remains a working man of the theatre, which is why he wanted to get his hands dirty with this show.

He has armed himself with Beverley Callard and Joe McGann as LV’s mother and dubious manager and X Factor’s Ray Quinn – mainly because his Little Voice is little known Jess Robinson. It must be difficult, given how amazing Horrocks was, to cast the role of LV. Cartwright has come up trumps with the whole cast. Robinson is yet another find for the playwright, her performance as divas of old utterly mesmerising. What’s also surprise are the performances of Callard and McGann. Okay, they had to wear head mics to fill the huge auditorium, but their performances, Callard’s in particular, was full of comic timing and in McGann’s case, not a little sinister. It might have been a success first time round, but still well worth seeing again.