Review- Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Theatre Royal Wakefield

Comedy-drama The Rise and Fall of Little Voice has been around for 30 years, premiering in the West End in 1992 with Jane Horrocks in the title role.
Christina Bianco as Little VoiceChristina Bianco as Little Voice
Christina Bianco as Little Voice

Most will be more familiar with the 1998 film which saw Horrocks reprising her role and Brenda Blethyn as her mother Mari Hoff. Blethyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

It tells the story of a meek and mild young woman who lives with an overbearing mother and who mourns the death of her much-loved father. A father who introduced her to the songs of Judy Garland, Marylin Monroe and other divas. She lives a solitary existence playing his records hidden away in her bedroom.

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The 2022 tour stopped off at the Theatre Royal Wakefield this week. Christina Bianco is superb as Little Voice with a powerful vocal range that is used to full advantage. Her character's sweet nature shines through and so, when she is moved to anger, it is all the more surprising.

The cast of The Rise and Fall of Little VoiceThe cast of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
The cast of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Shobna Gulati plays the drunken, foul-mouthed harridan Mari. Although plating a larger than life character Gulati goes over the top at times and descends into caricature. Her screeching delivery often making it difficult for the audience to hear her lines.

Mari is a pathetic, insecure woman who has had a miserable life, and rails against the world and the injustices she has suffered. But it is to Gulati's credit that does manager to endow some empathy for the character and it's easy to feel just a little bit sorry for her.

Ian Kelsey is a credible Ray Say, charming one minute and manipulative the next while William Ilkley plays Mr Boo for laughs and gets a good reaction from the audience when he plays the crowd from the stage of his club.

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Supporting cast members are Fiona Mulvaney as Mari's put-upon friend Sadie, Akshay Gulati as Billy, Little Voice's love interest, and James Robert Moore as The Phone Man.

A clever cut-away set minimises scene changes and keeps the story flowing: the first half of the show is a little slow but things pick up after the interval

In all, a pleasant evening's entertainment but one that didn't quite hit the spot as far as this reviewer was concerned.

Until Saturday May 28 then touring

Tickets at

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