On entering the Lighthouse auditorium to watch The Rise And Fall of Little Voice tonight, the audience are entertained by versatile actor/ comedian Duggie Brown - who’s corny jokes and bingo games try to convince us we are at his character, Mr Boo`s Scarborough working men’s club.
The scenery is simple. Set in1992 at the the working class home of chronically timid ‘Little Voice’ (known as LV), superbly portrayed by Jess Robinson. Her life consists of listening to her dead father’s vinyl collection of all the great divas.... played loudly to drown out the sounds of her drunken mother’s antics downstairs.
Any disappointment that Beverley Callard is not on stage tonight is soon forgotten as understudy Sarah Dearlove gives a gritty but humorous performance as LV`s drunken, widowed - exquisitely vulgar- out of control mother Mari.
She is word perfect, and her character is wonderfully complimented by her shambolic -and equally vulgar- friend Sadie (played brilliantly by Sally Plumb.)
The dialogue and humour between the two is as realistic as watching reality TV.
Ray Quinn, believable as Billy, a shy and nervous telephone engineer, meets LV and a tentative romance between the young couple begins to blossom.
When dodgy talent scout Ray Say (a convincing Simon Thorp) comes onto the scene as Mari`s latest squeeze, LV`s life becomes even more difficult. On overhearing her astonishing vocal impersonations of great divas like Marilyn Munroe, Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Edith Piaf, sung alone in her bedroom, Ray sees an opportunity to make the big time at last.....….. To say more would spoil this superb story, but suffice to say it is a tale of music, divas and romance, with a stunning finale of sound and light.
Well worth mentioning is the scene where LV beats away Ray with a breath-taking sequence of song-clips in an amazing tour de force, as Robinson slips effortlessly from one great song to another.
Multi-award winning playwright Jim Cartwright has directed his show with equal measures of sadness, warmth and humour. Well worth watching.