The Rise & Fall Of Little Voice

Date 1st April 2022
Society Sale & Altrincham Musical Theatre
Venue Altrincham Little Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Martyn Preston


Author: Stephanie Niland (District 1 Drama Rep)

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice the film, seemed very much a vehicle for Jane Horrock’s impersonation skills, but the play definitely pulls our focus towards the other characters and the hardships and relationships of them. 

In particular, Mari the often drunk and chaotic mother of LV played brilliantly by Vikki Bullar. Every line was delivered perfectly in a thick northern accent, and we heard and relished every angry, flirty, dry word. Vikki completely understood the comedy and the level to which it should be played. Avoiding a caricature, she explored the complexity of the Mari: the poverty, regret, loneliness and made us understand the reason behind her heartless and embarrassing nature whilst at the same time being laugh-out-loud funny. The lurching and slapstick moments were fabulous.  Congratulations on an impressively detailed performance. 

Kate Darlington’s reclusive LV was beautifully meek. Her moments of cringing shyness were authentic and she was played with a realism which makes the relationship between her and Billy more believable than seen in other versions. The introverted behaviour and fear of the outside world felt like it stemmed from her upbringing and the bullying she endured and that was coupled with a natural timidity from her mild father. The impersonations were varied and well executed, although I think a real microphone may have helped us hear better the nuances she was obviously displaying vocally. 

Janice Rendel as Sadie was just wonderful. The facial expressions and wide-eyed presence were inspired. The whole physicalising of Sadie was again played at just the correct level without actually playing for laughs which made it all the funnier. Particularly enjoyable were the small and detailed moments when Sadie wasn’t the intended focus, not to say she was stealing scenes, she was merely being her Sadie in all her truthfulness, and it was appreciated. 

Delightful, tender and believable was Mark Rendal’s portrayal of Billy. Exactly as he should be played. Naive but not entirely green, we understood his affinity with LV’s situation immediately. 

Ray Say, played by Bob Etherington was funny and appropriately sleazy. His rambling, thinking-on-feet style of delivery worked in the character, and it came across as a confident and natural performance, congratulations.

Stuart Sephton as Mr Boo was skillfully executed. An underplayed comedic rendition that rendered the character hilarious. Perfectly balanced for the venue and completely in character throughout. Well done. 

The set design served the piece well, evoking a particular poverty and the 80s era. Although the special effects of the sparks were impressive, it is hard to create the illusion of fire on set particularly in such an intimate venue, however the charred remains were good and the fact that the black came off on the hands and costumes (intentional or not) was a nice touch. 

The direction by Martyn Preston was as impressive as the performers. The natural-style comedy came second to the story and characters. The coupling of Ray Say and Mari, two desperate chancers grimly exploiting each other and LV, contrasted beautifully with the sweet and innocent relationship blooming between the equally shy and unassuming Billy and LV. There were some choice moments played splendidly and given appropriate gravitas - the moment of raw honesty towards the end of the play, drew us in and gave us that jerk that a good brave play does when we feel admonished for laughing so much when there is such visceral emotion involved. The fact that the comedy was played so naturally and didn’t enter the realms of absurd or caricature is also testament to a director with a good grasp of the material. 

A thoroughly enjoyable evening, and so obviously appreciated by the audience. Well done all.