Skip to main content

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Dundee Rep
4 stars
Jim Cartwright’s 1992 northern English musical romance may now look
like a pre X-Factor, pre Su-Bo period piece, but in its lineage of
working-class drama from A Taste of Honey through to The Royle Family
and early Shameless, its depiction of self-determination against all
odds still packs an emotional punch. Jemima Levick’s new production
also recognises the power of the three-minute pop song epics that
painfully shy teenager LV learns by rote from her dead dad’s old record
collection, and which provide salvation from her drink-sodden mother
Mari’s increasingly manic adventures in excess. Everything changes,
however, when the latest flame Mari brings home is seedy showbiz agent
Ray Say, who thrusts LV reluctantly into the spotlight, even as young
telephone engineer Billy pursues her in a different way.

Levick and designer Janet Bird invite the audience into this gig of all
gigs from the off by seating them at nightclub tables before tinsel
drapes that offer an illusion of glamour light years from the shabby
two-up two-down Mari and LV call home. As played by Irene MacDougall
and Robert Paterson, LV’s immediate elders resemble grotesque escapees
from a John Cooper-Clarke poem, with the arch playing style retaining a
gritty edge.

Helen Darbyshire, in a confident debut, plays LV as someone learning to
express herself by instinct despite not being given the vocabulary.
Billy with his lights and LV with her songs are like some inarticulate
Romeo and Juliet who’ve found poetry in other places. The ending can’t
avoid sentimentality, and Levick goes for it in spades, but watching LV
blossom into an artist existing on her own terms is a lump-in-throat
thrill nevertheless.

The Herald, March 4th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …