REVIEW: The Rise and Fall Of Little Voice, Sheffield Lyceum

Jess Robinson as Little Voice and Ray Quinn as Billy. Picture: Paul Coltas
Jess Robinson as Little Voice and Ray Quinn as Billy. Picture: Paul Coltas

an elbow from the woman next to me jabbed me four times with uncontrollable excitement. I didn’t mind as I could tell she was absolutely mesmerised by everything on stage.

Little Voice (LV) is the story of a shy girl with an appalling mother far more enamoured with drink and men than her daughter. LV spends her time with her beloved late father’s record collection and has a hidden talent for impersonating all the great, vintage divas.

The play was first written in 1992 and made into a film called Little Voice starring Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine and Ewan McGregor in 1998.

In this production, LV (Jess Robinson) was certainly a stand-out talent. The scene where she’s actually performing sparkled in a way the rest of the production did not - though she was a little over-the-top with the physical acting in the opening scenes.

Much of the humour made me uncomfortable. I don’t know where the saving grace is with fat-girl-next-door jokes. That’s nothing against Sadie (Sally Plumb) whose performance was good. In fact, the only likeable and tender relationship in the play was between LV and shy Billy (Ray Quinn).

Performances were mostly lack-lustre - with LV’s mother Mari (Beverley Callard) mostly over-egging everything. But volume was the show’s greatest problem - I get that LV played the songs loudly but there’s no need to deafen everyone on the front row. And LV also needed to have a BV when her moment to shine finally came and even when she finally did find her own voice, it was quite difficult to make out what she was saying.

It definitely wasn’t the show for me. But, from the enthusiastic elbow-prodding and applause, I was most definitely in a minority.

*Jen Foster