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The Rise and Fall of Little Voice


Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

It’s the quiet ones you have to watch in Jim Cartwright’s scabrous treatise on grief and finding salvation through song, revived here by Gemma Fairlie as the second show of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s summer season. At the start, at least, LV, the painfully shy young woman that gives the play its title, is all but ignored amidst the clamour caused by her drunken mother and the big-talking men she brings back to a house with dangerously shonky wiring.

While LV stays silent, she loses herself in the records once owned by her now dead dad. Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Edith Piaf were his favourites, camp icons all, and when LV sings, it’s as if she’s channelling the spirit of both them and him. It’s local lothario Ray Say and sleazy club compere Mr Boo who have stars in their eyes, however, as LV runs terrified from the spotlight.

Written and set in a pre-internet and pre-reality TV talent show age, Cartwright’s play is a potty-mouthed riot. While a rites of passage for LV and telephone engineer Billy, who offers her light in every way, it’s a self-destructive screaming match of failed ambition for everybody else. With each scene segued by a slow-motion lurch into the next, the play itself dove-tails between sit-com, rom-com and soap opera.

As LV’s mother Mari Hoff, Deirdre Davis is a ravaged explosion of back-street disappointment with a crow’s nest bouffant. Carl Patrick and Alan Steele cut a similarly grotesque dash as Ray and Mr Boo, with Irene Myrtle-Forrester’s neighbour Sadie an amusingly silent witness. If life is a cabaret, only Laura Costello’s radiant LV and Isaac Stanmore’s Billy have a hope here, and when LV shines enough to finds her own voice, it’s electric.

The Herald, June 11th 2018

ends

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