Amanda remarks in Private Lives, it’s strange
how potent cheap music is. It’s a lesson that Jim Cartwright
certainly took to heart for Little Voice. And so,
20 years after its National Theatre première,
15 years after the successful film and now after a recent West End
revival, it’s being taken on the road again – this time in
Cartwright’s own production.
it worth one more revival? Not really; it’s a piece that’s
beginning to show its age. In truth, even in 1992, a world of vinyl
records would have been old-fashioned so Mari wouldn’t have been
seen dead playing a 45 and would a fiver to spend down the off
licence really have seen like such a huge amount?
play is an uncomfortable halfway point between a period piece and a
contemporary drama. This wouldn’t matter if the performances were
riveting but the cast can’t make us forget the holes in the plot.
Beverley Callard tries hard as Mari, so hard that it’s difficult
to see the woman beneath the caricature. Jess Robinson is superb in
Little Voice’s show-stopping routine but fails to capture the
vulnerability of a young woman grieving for a dead father and
neglected by an uncaring mum and Ray Quinn never convinces as a
tongue-tied, lovelorn Billy.
the other hand, Simon Thorp makes for a swaggering, strutting
two-faced Ray Say. It’s a performance so cheesy that one can almost
smell the cheap aftershave from the stalls and Dougie Brown plays
the part of a club MC to such perfection that you’d think he’d
done it for years – well, actually, he has.
days, the premise of the show would be all wrong. Ray would never
have any dreams of discovering unknown talent as they’d all have
auditioned for The X Factor or The
Voice before they were 18. It’s a play that offers a
glimpse of history, one that was already out of date when it was
written and one that looks altogether too dated now.