‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 1, 2016

‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ was richly written in 1992 by Lancashire born dramatist, Jim Cartwright. It was the Winner of an Evening Standard Award, and a Laurence Olivier Award, both being for Best Comedy of the Year. The story was made into a prize winning film in 1998.

This delightful, Kalamunda Dramatic Society presentation, just short of two-hours, can be seen at the Kalamunda Amateur Dramatic Society Theatre in Barber Street, Kalamunda nightly at 8.00 pm.

This fabulous show finishes its three-week season on Saturday 3rd December.

 

The scene is the present day, in the sitting room of a rundown house in the North of England.

The stage apron and the auditorium aisle became the local club. The artwork was by Olivia Peters.

The set designer (Alastair Woodcock) has stripped the small stage back to the bare brick walls. The furnishings are meagre and tatty. To one side of the stage is a staircase leading to a teenager’s bedroom. The bedroom walls are pink and adorned by the LP covers of singing stars from the 1960s and 70s. The props were few but probably very difficult to source, well-done Linda Murray. The busy stage manager was Karen Woodcock.

The lighting (Stephen Marr) and sound (Julie Hickling) designs were very well thought out. With several special visual effects required from a limited lighting rig, a most impressive result. The efficient technical operators were Alexis Marr, Lesley Broughton and Anita Bound. Greg Rusha engineered the sound.

 

       After her husband died, Mari (Sandra Sando) feeling abandoned, took to the drink. She is desperate for affection – and a regular sex life. However, life has passed her by, and this tarty woman finds herself throwing herself at any man that shows even the slightest interest. Her immature, 15 year old daughter, Laura ‘Little Voice’, or ‘LV’ as her Dad called her (Madeleine Shaw) was devastated by her loving Dad’s death. With only a mug saying ‘The World’s best Dad’, a photo of him on her bedroom wall, and his LP record collection, LV locks herself away. All day she listens to his discs, hoping to find some ethereal, paternal connection by impersonating the singers.

      Mari’s friend, Sadie (Rose Weighell – enchanting) is short of a few brain cells, but understands the circumstances of her friend and her daughter, and shows LV genuine affection. As Mari and Sadie are having an afternoon nip of Bacardi, the telephone men arrive to install Mari’s lifeline to her clients. Mari moves in on the older technician, Clark (Stephen Marr) whilst the very shy young assistant, Billy (Jack Williams) smiles fondly at introverted, nervous LV.

     No sooner is the ‘phone installed but the village’s ‘impresario’, Ray Say (Keith Scrivens – best I have seen him) arrives to ‘see’ Mari. Her neckline lowers and there is more flesh on show than in a butcher’s window. He hears LV singing in her bedroom and cannot believe the quality. Anticipating being the agent to an international star, Ray calls the local club owner, greasy Mr Boo (Derek Russell).

     Could fame be just around the corner for LV? Will Mari find the man of her dreams?

 

Director Terry Hackett has once again worked her magic. This is basically an absorbing comedy, but with her clever direction and a magnificent cast – not a weak link anywhere – Terry has brought out the frustrations, deep sadness and pathetic lives of the mother and daughter. There are several poignant scenes where the mother grasps at ‘affection’, and poor LV just feels totally unloved and reclusive.

Narelle Belle mentored Madeleine’s numerous vocal characterisations, and in one scene, Madeleine rattled through several well-known personalities, with a confident, powerful, and beautifully melodic voice with the perfect style of the person she was impersonating. The cameos changed in microseconds, requiring a modification of vocal delivery, accent, and body action. A stunning performance.

Sandra Sando was outstanding as the debauched and pathetic mother, filled with jealousy and frustration. Her rough Edinburgh accent grated, and her whole demeanour was daring and repulsive. Superb.

Every aspect of this show was exceptional.