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Posted by : RodDungate on May 04, 2007 - 10:11 AM Archive
By Jim Cartwright

Watermill – West Berkshire Playhouse until 26th May
Running Time: 2 ˝ Hours
Review: Stewart McGill, 2 May 2007

Well timed: well tuned

In this age of celebrity culture and the instant possibility of fame through exposure in the endless search for talent media shows, Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a powerful and moving work. It’s rightly revived and given a simply dynamic production by Tom Daley at Watermill.

Telling a story of exploitation, deceit and savage exposure, the play follows the tortuous route taken by Little Voice’s alcoholic mother, opportunistic boyfriend and club promoter in creating an act based on the private passion of a young girl whose world is deeply secretive and personal. For her a chance of fame is not an option – it is a terror. The play moves between squalid Northern street house and even worse club where the Watermill audience become complicit in the shabby treatment of Little Voice.

A dark poetic dialogue with grotesque characters elevate the drama to a higher level than one may suspect at the outset. Although written for Jane Horrocks to display her extraordinary mimicking of the divas of the past, Kelly Price gives a remarkable portrayal of Little Voice and balances the on-stage re-creation of supreme singing talent with a tortured soul lost in a world of greed and fury.

Lynne Pearson as her mother with Barry McCormick as the opportunistic Ray Say deliver with chilling realism in a production that ranks amongst the best I have seen at this intimate venue. Design, lighting, sound design and values emphasise the need for regional theatre to continue to be supported by funding bodies to ensure work like this continues.

This is a well-timed, well-tuned and vibrant evening of powerful even heartbreaking drama.

Cast: Billy: Mark Bixter, Sadie May: Alison Garland, Mr Boo/Phone Man: Nicholas Lumley, Ray Say: Barry McCormick, Mari Hoff: Lynne Pearson, Little Voice: Kelly Price.

Creative: Director: Tom Daley, Musical Supervisor/Arranger: Dominic Haslam, Designed by Paul Wills, Lighting: David Holmes, Sound: Chris Full, Movement Director: Katherine Taylor.
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