Jim Cartwright’s 1992 play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice opened at the National Theatre starring Jane Horricks and Alison Steadman, in the leading roles of Little Voice and her foul-mouthed mother Mari. The play was then adapted into a major film in 1998 where Jane Horrocks reprised her role as the shy quiet girl with a love for old records left by her father and an ear for impersonating the performers.

It is hard to get a production of this show wrong as the writing is so brilliant, all it needs is great casting and good direction to make it a success. Unfortunately, this production at the Park Theatre has taken an interesting spin on using a real-life mother and daughter but neither fulfil the characters to their full potential.

Sally George (Mari) and Rafaella Hutchinson are both fine actresses and the fact Rafaella can sing is not in question here. But the part of LV requires a brilliant musical impressionist which unfortunately she is not and every impression verges on sounding the same.

Much is to be blamed on the direction of the show. The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is brilliantly funny, but comedic moments like when next door neighbour Sadie makes a cup of tea and is warned not to put too much sugar in, fall flat when she adds two modest tea spoons with her back to the audience. Comic moments like this usually involve Sadie pouring half the bag of sugar into her tea but that moment was missed in this production.

Jamie-Rose Monk as Sadie again falls flat in the direction of the piece as the character has so much potential to be hysterically funny and with the exception of her dancing to I Want You Back, the character feels unexplored.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is one of my favourite shows and I have seen several productions over the years but this was the first I felt really let the piece down and didn’t give a true representation of Jim Cartwright’s brilliant play.

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Scarlett Casciello

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