Park Theatre – until 15 September 2018
In Tom Latter’s stolid revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Park Theatre, relocation to Hull does a lot for the pitiable poverty, nothing for the snappy Lancashire dialogue whose rhythms are displaced by a more randomly-accented cast.
Jim Cartwright’s play about a domineering mother and reclusive daughter re-defined A Taste of Honey for the nineties, put the Bolton playwright on the map, and made a star of Jane Horrocks whose talent for mimicry, as well as skill in portraying the reclusive wounded girl, has never been eclipsed.
I know – don’t get your hairnet in a twist Ena Sharples, it’s nobbut the other end of the M62 – and London audiences may not care, but to my Lancastrian ear it just sounds wrong. It’s also slow and plodding, where earlier productions all took the script at a brisker clip.
Maybe attitudes to withdrawal, and depression, have changed in 25 years, but the play doesn’t have either the comic or the dramatic impact it did originally, and of course the fact that LV eventually sings like a diva is no longer a surprise.
Rafaella Hutchinson’s LV is herself a little underpowered, and her interpretations of Shirley Bassey, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland are initially sketchy, so it’s difficult to understand why Northern Club owners would think she could be a cabaret act. Her real-life mother Sally George plays leopard-printed slattern Mari convincingly coarse and comically desperate but just a little shy of the vulnerability that made Alison Steadman or Brenda Blethyn so watchable.
Kevin McGonagle has a smart blend of sleaze and urgency as Ray Say (the Michael Caine part) but the treat of the night is Jamie-Rose Monk as neighbour Sadie: a marvellous observation throughout but when frigging to the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’, just a moment of joy.