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Little Voice: Review
With an overbearing mother who’s fond of the drink, and yet another sleazy ‘uncle’ with his feet under the table, the girl they call Little Voice seeks solace in her late father’s record collection.
She’s painfully shy and almost mute – but when she sings she sparkles like the divas she idolises. This is a bittersweet tale of grief, loneliness and the grubby side of the northern club scene.
When Little Voice’s brash mother Mari hooks up with shady impressario Ray Say, he sees pound signs in the girl’s extraordinary ability to mimic great female singers, from Garland to Streisand, and hatches a plan to get her onto the stage.
I didn’t care for the film but this production – directed by writer Jim Cartwright for the first time – is moving and funny, woven together by entertaining snippets of clubland, courtesy of Duggie Brown’s well observed club compere. The audience bingo was a nice touch.
Morgan Large’s doll’s house-style set was striking, with LV retreating to her bedroom upstairs and Mari causing chaos in the living-room beneath.
The play rests largely on Little Voice’s mimicry, and Jess Robinson was excellent. Her showstopping medley of songs covering, among others, Diana Ross, Ethel Merman, Shirley Bassey and Julie Andrews, was breathtaking.
Beverley Callard gave a scene-stealing performance as Mari, bringing an endearing vulnerability to the role. Mari is a rotten mother but she’s lonely and desperate, and I felt sympathy for her. She also got the biggest laughs. “Are you agrophobical?” she asks her daughter. “Cause if you are you can get out.”
Nice performances too from Philip Andrew as Ray Say and Ray Quinn as LV’s shy love interest, Billy.
Runs until Saturday.