Saturday, April 13

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – Richmond Theatre

‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ by Jim Cartwright comes to West London’s Richmond Theatre this week as part of a national tour. An award winning, life-affirming play, originally introduced to the stage in 1992, but made famous by the screen adaptation starting Jane Horrocks and Brenda Blethyn. The story of Little Voice (LV) and Mari Hoff, a timeless classic exploring the highs and the lows of small-town dreams, family rivalry and finding your voice in a noisy world.

The current production, directed by Bronagh Lagan has so much potential, and promises an uplifting and timeless tale. With a seasoned cast including the brilliant Shobna Gulati (Mari Hoff), Ian Kelsey (Ray Say), and Fiona Mulvaney (Sadie), plus the mega talented international sensation, Christina Bianco in the lead role of LV, there were such high hopes for a brilliant, high glitz performance, but something didn’t quite connect with the audience in Richmond, and the production was quite lack-lustre from start to finish. 

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what didn’t translate, but there was a feeling of watching the play through your neighbour’s front window. You can see that the incredibly talented cast are giving phenomenal performances, Gulati gave a powerful whirlwind interpretation of Mari, and Kelsey is a strong support as Ray, but it all seems a little bit distant, unrelatable and without sparkle. This is not helped at all by the terribly poor sound design (Andrew Johnson), that seemed to create a massive buffer between the performers and the audience, and an overwhelmingly grand set design (Sara Perks) that seemed to swallow up poor Bianco and her amazing voice.

By far the best 15 minutes of the production is when LV can stand centre stage and show the audience exactly what she is capable of, without competing with set, lights, and sound effects. A truly climactic event in contrast to what can only be described as a “snooze-fest” for the remainder of the show. By the second act it was hard to keep with the plot and it started to feel like time had stood still. It is truly unfortunate that so much brilliant performance is wrapped up in disappointment. Not a production that can be recommended. 

‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ continues its tour dates into July. Tickets are available from Website:  

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 28th June 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★