FIRST NIGHT REVIEW: Ex Corrie star Beverley is both manic and compelling in this beautifully crafted theatrical experience

Little Voice at Cambridge all week

Little Voice at Cambridge all week - Credit: Archant

THE dark side of our nature can offer uncomfortable exploration but when theatre does it well the affect can be exhilarating, disturbing and, thankfully, at time uplifting.

Little Voice at Cambridge all week

Little Voice at Cambridge all week - Credit: Archant

The roller coaster of emotional turmoil unfurled in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a no holds barred, 10 rounds encounter of human frailty and emotion that makes bare knuckle wrestling seem positively common.

Little Voice at Cambridge all week

Little Voice at Cambridge all week - Credit: Archant

The story is of LV, Little Voice, mentally and emotionally trapped within the confines of a dysfunctional home presided over with terrifying self interest by her mother Mari (Beverley Callard) whose passage to hell in a hand cart proceeds at an alarming rate.

Little Voice at Cambridge all week

Little Voice at Cambridge all week - Credit: Archant

The neglect of LV (Jess Robinson) is wilful but at least she has her late father’s record collection to sustain her, and therein is the plot.

Whilst LV has learned how to mimic, sing and perform an array of Diva music ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Lulu, her mother has learned little except the art of surviving on a diet of alcohol, men, stale cornflakes, more men, more alcohol and an occasional cuppa with a neighbour.


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Beverley Callard (ex Corrie) is manic, in a good sense, but clearly aware she is teetering on the brink, looking for something, anything, in life that offers a future but aware she is supping in the last chance saloon.

Her ‘man’ Ray Say (Simon Thorp) is neither saviour nor saint but possessed of an almost demonic belief of better times ahead in his small town role booking club acts: when he chances upon LV’s electrifying performance he smells money and opportunity.

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The plot gets deeper, darker but is tempered with some wonderful vignettes that intersperse the drama with warmth and colour.

There’s also a wonderfully quixotic appearance from X Factor’s Ray Quinn whose performance is best summed up as under stated.

The action though remains fast paced, mesmeric and in Jess Robinson’s voice and Beverley Callard’s metamorphosis’ out of soap land are compelling qualities that ensure the vitality of this beautifully crafted theatrical romp.

However should you want me to explain why at one point we – as in the audience- took part in a raffle for a jar of gherkins and a game of bingo for a can of evaporated milk I desist. The forlorn expectation of bingo players is not for the fainthearted.

Little Voice is on all week at The Arts Theatre, Cambridge, and forms part of a summer programme of remarkable durability and confident values.

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