Little Voice - Nottingham Theatre Royal
LITTLE Voice is a timid bird-like soul and the bitter-sweet story tells the tale of a painfully shy only child whose lonely existence is brought to life by the music of Judy Garland, Edith Piaff and Marilyn Monroe.
Bullied by her overbearing mother Mari (Beverley Callard), the songstress (played by Jess Robinson) finds solace in a record collection which was left to her by her late father.
Mari is a lush who can’t keep her hands off the booze — or the men — and blames Little Voice — or LV as she is affectionately known — for everything which is wrong with her life.
LV strikes up a friendship with telephone engineer Billy (Ray Quinn) and the slow-burning love affair between the two is played with extreme tenderness.
But what about ‘the record collection?’ It is packed with albums by a host of divas including Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Diana Ross and Barbra Striesand and, after playing them constantly for more years than she can remember, LV has perfected her heroine’s voices down to a T.
Mari takes up with local wide boy and booking agent, Ray Say (Philip Andrew) and the play follows the couple’s attempt to exploit LV’s amazing talent for mimicry.
Aided and abetted by next door neighbour Sadie (Sally Plumb) and night club owner Mr Boo (Duggie Brown) the story is a roller-coaster of emotions for everyone on stage and off.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric when Robinson performed her diva medley at Mr Boo’s club and the audience reaction of thunderous applause and deafening whistles said it all.
Much of the appeal of this play is how sensitively it has been written. Jim Cartwright is a maestro with the written word weaving his magic with the many complexities each characters has.
I didn’t walk into Nottingham Theatre Royal on Monday evening believing I was in for the theatrical night of my life I went with an open mind as I have never much cared for the film version of the Rise and Fall of Little Voice.
But if you only visit the theatre once this year, this is the play to see.
Jess Robinson’s presence on stage in the title role is captivating and her casting a stroke of genius.
The war of words between her, Mari and Ray Say at the close of the play is mesmerising.
A montage of misfits somehow all fitting perfectly.