The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a total northern treasure about a young girl who has surrendered her confidence to her overbearing mother after her father passed away, and the struggles she endured by not being heard. What’s key about the piece, is that it isn’t about LV’s rise or fall in terms of the consequences for herself. The story explores LV being thrown into the spotlight against every natural instinct in her body, yet her explorative peers want to share her talents for personal gain. The set is mostly the house of LV and Mari, that converts into a club for other scenes with clever lighting changes. The intricate set (Jacob Hughes) and clever lighting design (Matthew Cater) really set a fantastic atmosphere for the piece.
It has to be said that Sally George completely owns the piece. Granted, the dialogue is boosted heavily in her favour as she is speaking for the majority of the piece, but it is easy to watch actors crumble under this kind of pressure. George effortlessly embodies Mari in every element, and she has made the character come to life so well that we find humour in relating her to someone we all know and love for their quirks. Considering that Mari is intoxicated throughout the majority of the piece, it would be easy to slip into “drunk acting”, but the direction (Tom Latter) that has been given to George is so naturalistic that it’s is like being a fly on the wall, which is where a lot of the humour comes from. Her interesting approach to her treatment of LV is refreshing and realistic, particularly towards the end, when things get heated.
As for Rafaella Hutchinson, it’s clear to see that she’s put a lot of work into mastering the voices that not echo the era, but are spot-on in terms of her impersonations. I do however wish that other areas of Hutchinson’s performance matched the mastery she accomplishes in perfecting the tone of her voice. The character of LV clearly struggles with a crippling anxiety that stops her from speaking most of the time, and when she does she is barely heard, hence the name ‘Little Voice’. However, I think Hutchinson played the character with a deer-in-the-headlights feel, whereas I think it would have shown more depth if she had focused on the thoughts a person with horrendous anxiety experiences. It felt like some of the decisions were too easy, such as during her breakdown. I wanted this to be full of psychotic energy; I wanted LV to go crazy to show that even though she may have a little voice, there are still manic thoughts going on in her head. I wanted her to completely shock the audience by having a real breakdown, and I felt a little short-changed.
A comment does have to be made about Jamie-Rose Monk as Sadie. Despite virtually saying nothing more than the word “okay”, she created a depth with the character that was completely hilarious to watch. She was invisible when it counted, yet made an impression when it mattered with impeccable comic timing.
This piece is an extremely strong example of typical northern humour that challenges and highlights issues with alcoholism, anxiety and exploitation. It’s a perfect example of balanced, timeless theatre, and with a great team and cast, it’s certainly not one to miss.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is playing at the Park Theatre until 15 September. For more information and tickets, click here.
Photo: Ali Wright