by Rick Bowen
PAINFULLY timid, Little Voice spends most of her time shut away in her bedroom, playing her late father's beloved vinyl collection on a museum piece of a record player.
She's so quiet in company you could forget she's there, but beneath her mousy exterior lies a remarkable talent that nobody can ignore.
Altrincham Garrick launches its new season with a modern day classic, in the shape of Jim Cartwright's The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. One of my
favourite writers, Cartwright's script is as laugh out loud funny as it is poignant and he makes you care about Little Voice, a fragile flower who also has a domineering drunk of a mother to contend with as well as her socially debilitating hang ups.
This is a tribute to Cartwright's writing, the direction of Peter Birch and the performance of Olivia Archbold as Little Voice. I really enjoyed the way she developed the character and I'm sure I wasn't the only one willing her and the lovable Billy, LV's male equivalent, to strike up a romance, It was like watching a northern Romeo and Juliet, for the balcony we had this young girl's bedroom window. These scenes, humorous and touching, were beautifully played by Olivia and Rob Dutton.
Lise Banks was also very good value as LV's mother, Mari Hoff, a good time girl whose appetite for the booze is as insatiable as her appetite for the men. I use the word 'girl' in its loosest possible sense, by the way. Lise also managed to make the awful Marie sympathetic and nowhere is this more evident when Mari is given a brutal dressing down by the sleazy showbiz talent scout Ray Say (Andrew Higson). She looks likea wounded animal after Say's verbal assault.
By far the funniest character is Sadie, Mari's daft as a brush next door neighbour. No wonder Mari never has anything in her fridge as this good soul seems to be on a "see food and eat it" diet.
While this play isn't wall to wall hilarity it provides an enjoyable start to a gloomy time of year, when many of us are coming to terms with eye watering post Christmas credit card bills. More Jim Cartwright at the Garrick, please.
* Star rating - """"