The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (tour - Brighton, Theatre Royal)
Is 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?
The 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.
On 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.
These 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 It’s a play that offers a glimpse of history, one that was already out of date when it was written and one that looks altogether too dated now.