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Review: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, at Park Theatre

Emotional highs and lows, and wonderful performances, in Jim Cartwright’s tale of a young woman eager to hide away from the world

31 August, 2018 — By Catherine Usher

Sally George in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. Photo: Ali Wright

WITTY, gritty, tuneful and dramatic, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is the ideal vehicle for confident actors to show what they’re made of.

Sally George’s Mari Hoff is a formidable presence and her outgoing, talkative personality risks overshadowing those around her. George plays Mari as a particularly brassy Real Housewives of Cheshire type, who is loud and vulgar yet frequently amusing and rather likeable, flashing her knickers as she lolls around on the couch.

Jim Cartwright’s tale of a young woman eager to hide away from the world in her bedroom, listening to her Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey records, demonstrates how different personalities try to function alongside each other, with the timid LV gravitating towards softly-spoken, kindly Billy (Linford Johnson), while trying to shield herself from the pressure of her overbearing mother.

As LV, Rafaella Hutchinson expertly captures the young woman’s awkwardness and vulnerability. Like many shy people, LV is not without her steeliness – she is capable of putting her foot down, when circumstances force her to resist, and Hutchinson is careful to reveal the contrasting layers of LV’s character.

Supporting roles are also wonderfully portrayed, such as Kevin McMonagle’s corrupt, self-serving Ray Say and Jamie-Rose Monk’s overweight and undervalued Sadie. The scene in which Sadie dances joyously to The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back is both bubbly and bleak.

As the expectation builds towards the timid LV’s performances, there’s a pressure on Hutchinson to really deliver and, although she has a strong voice and can reproduce Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Boop-boop-a-doop” startlingly well, she doesn’t quite reach the breathtaking heights that Jane Horrocks achieved both on stage and in the 1998 film version.

Hits such as Big Spender, These Boots Are Made For Walking, Get Happy and Fever are energetically and enthusiastically performed, however, and ultimately the emotional highs and lows of the story are successfully navigated.

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