The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – Louth Playgoers

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My first show of the new season, 11th – 16th September 2017 sees the current Louth Playgoers Production, written by Jim Cartwright, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.  I knew the film fairly well so was interested to see how the Director, Jeremy Smith and the Producer, Jamie Harris translated this story onto the stage and brought to life the funny yet sad story to the stage.

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The play tells the story of a shy, reclusive girl named Little Voice and her larger than life, out of control mother Mari.

Desperately missing her dead father, Little Voice spends her time locked in her bedroom listening to his old record collection and perfecting astonishing impersonations of famous divas including Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Dusty Springfield.

When Mari starts dating small-time club agent Ray Say, she thinks he’s her last chance for a better life. When Ray Say hears Little Voice sing, he thinks she’s his ticket to the big time. Little Voice just wants a normal life and to be loved. Not everyone is going to get what they want

I actually can’t believe its 25 years since the film was made with Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn and Jane Horrocks, and was delighted to see that the play had its own particular quirks and nuances that added a brilliant comedic effect; definitely not a copycat version of the film despite still only having 7 cast members.

Helen Crawshaw played ‘Little Voice’ and I was really impressed by her impersonations and her portrayal of shyness in the beginning and her transformation on the stage when she eventually found herself (which brought a tear to my eye); it was really well done.

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Laura Martin, who played ‘Mari Hoff’ was very funny and utterly believable as the drunken, uncaring mother, delivering her lines with clarity and great comedy and her sidekick, Yvonne Bates who played ‘Sadie May’ made a brilliant pair; their MJ disco moves were fab.  I really relished the ‘vacant, vacuum and void’ look of Sadie, what a character.  Her little personal ‘gems’ totally grossed me out if I’m honest (in a good way), but added fabulous detail to an already brilliantly played character.  I’m just glad I wasn’t the one clearing up after her!  Very well done, I can’t say you were born to play that part Yvonne but I bet that was fun.

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Derek Maher obviously had a few fans in the audience on Tuesday evening as he played ‘Ray Say’; I loved the way his character changed from Mari’s lustful lover, to showing empathy and being manipulative in equal measures with Little Voice and then turning completely, by totally humiliating Mari; he moved from one Ray to another with believable ease despite some scenes being a bit uncomfortable to watch.

It was a wonderful performance by Jack Lovett in his third venture into a dramatic role as ‘Billy’ the telephone engineer’s assistant, and love interest of Little Voice.  His ability to show sensitivity and understanding to Little Voice’s concerns and helping her to overcome them came across beautifully.  I loved the way the audience could see his emotions without him having to say a word… a complete change from other roles I’ve seen Jack play previously.

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I loved the way the set was built, and the attention to detail was very clever; I did wonder how the transition to the club scenes were going to happen with the size of the set but it was very well done (the set was Designed by Eric Cahill and Brian Disbrowe)!  I also loved the use of lighting, to highlight the different elements of the stage and set, and the changes between scenes.  It all added a great atmosphere and made the audience feel they were there in the moment, especially in the ‘club’ scenes which were very cleverly thought out and Billy’s ‘lights’ at the end.  Well done also to Gareth Bates who played a delightfully cheesy ‘Mr Boo’; I don’t think I was the only member of the audience who felt that they had gone into the wrong theatre for Act 2; the ‘Phoenix Nights’ vibe was very funny!  It was good to have live musical accompaniment too from Matthew Jeffery  on piano and Stuart Spendlow on Drums (is that really your accent Stuart?).  I must also mention the ‘Phone Man’ Andrew Milsom, he played a dual role the ‘Showbiz Agent’ looking to take ‘Little Voice’ to greater things.

The Director was Jeremy Smith who has been with Louth Playgoers for six years;  the Producer was Jamie Harris, a familiar name at Louth Playgoers, directing, producing, singing, acting and even designing lights in many productions, as well as forming his own theatre company, JAM JAR PRODUCTIONS, who are currently rehearsing for their next production, ‘Confusions’ by Alan Ayckbourn to be performed at the Riverhead Theatre in November.

Well done to the whole cast and crew; a fabulous production that I urge anyone who can make it this week before the end of the run to take the time and book your ticket, you truly won’t be disappointed.  The show runs from 11th to 16th September and tickets can be purchased from Louth Riverhead Theatre Box Office or by visiting Louth Riverhead Theatre, Victoria Road, Louth, LN11 0BX or by Telephone: 01507 600350, prices range from £4 to £8.50.
The Box Office is open for advanced booking every Monday to Saturday from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

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