Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
is full of contradictions, as it mingles elements of classic fairy tale
with stark social realism. Joyful wordplay is off-set by crude (but
hilarious) jokes. At its core, however, is a group of people so
desperate that they grasp at the faintest trace of hope. Oh, and it also
features faithful recreations of some truly great torch songs.
Cinderella L.V (Katie Elin-Salt) does not want to go to the ball. She
responds to her over-bearing and larger than life mother Mari (Sue
Devaney) by isolating herself with the record collection of her late
father. But LV’s ability to mimic the torch singers she adores brings
her unwanted attention.
Director Elizabeth Newman offers a
world full of people at the end of their tether and hiding behind a
shield self-delusion. Mary Horan’s gaudy costumes make clear that
everyone is content to be mutton dressed as lamb. The mismatched
furniture in Ciaran Bagnall’s grubby (but much too tidy) set shows a
family living on the never-never. Newman is able to turn the Octagon
into a nightclub for L.V’s debut and excels at bringing out the play's
comedy elements - particularly in the interplay between Devaney and
Devaney delivers a stunning performance. The
physical and comedic elements alone are remarkable. She does the splits
and contorts herself into grotesque positions in an effort to be
seductive. But, most importantly, she reveals the humanity in a
character who could be repellent by showing the deep fear of loneliness
and the horrid need that have twisted Mari so out of shape.
a towering performance makes you forget that Mari is not the title
character. Katie Elin-Salt is such a superb vocalist that she achieves
the almost-impossible feat of convincing the audience LV really can sing
like her heroines. She lacks, however, the inner strength of someone
who is able to defy a powerful personality by constructing her own
version of reality.
This is a heart-warming and hugely popular
production of a modern classic that shows it is possible for anyone to
find their own way of coping with troubles if they have the
determination to do so.