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The Rise and Fall of Little Voice: A stunning performance from start to finish

All Areas > Entertainment > Theatre

Author: Patrick Baines, Posted: Thursday, 12th July 2018, 13:00

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was enjoyed by a capacity crowd at Cirencester’s Barn Theatre last night.

The play tells the story of a timid, reclusive girl named Little Voice and her out of control mother Mari, who is facing several battles, most notably against alcoholism. Little Voice spends her time locked away in her bedroom with her most treasured possessions – her record collection that was handed down to her by her late father. When Mari starts dating club agent Ray, she thinks he’s her last chance for a better life. Ray hears Little Voice sing and is blown away. He thinks she’s his route into showbusiness and financial security.

It becomes clear from the very first scene that Mari’s relationship with her daughter isn’t a loving one, she resents everything about her only child, and attacks her for her timid ways and crippling levels of self-confidence.

Sarah Hughes plays Little Voice in her first professional role since graduating from Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. Her performance was magnificent, and she looks certain to enjoy a long and successful career. For what is a very difficult role – combining shyness with outlandish vocal performances – she excelled. Her impressions of Judy Garland, Billie Holliday and Shirley Bassey are spectacular, her singing is as good as her acting and that’s saying something.

Gillian McCafferty’s performance as Mari is sublime. At the beginning of the play she is hilarious, but as the production moves towards its denouement the audience sympathises with her rather than laughs with her. There are several moments of understated sadness as the protagonists battle against each other in what turns out to be an emotional ending.

Director Michael Strassen’s production has moments of real humour, mostly provided by the foul-mouthed Mari who loves the sound of her own voice. There are several superb comic moments provided by Hadley Brown – another actor making his professional debut – as Billy, the shy telephone engineer who falls in love with Little Voice and who goes on to play a key role in saving the lead character from a near fatal housefire.

As the curtain came down on what was a superb production, the standing ovation was fully deserved. The performances from this small cast were enjoyed by everyone who had the pleasure of attending what looks set to be the one of the best productions held in Gloucestershire this summer.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice runs from 7 July – 4 August.

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