The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
Dundee Rep, until Sat 26 Apr, then touring
This popular modern fable focuses on introverted songbird Little Voice (Debbie Saloman), who retreats to her bedroom to escape the attentions of her boisterous mother, Mari Hoff (Elaine C Smith). Mari’s new boyfriend Ray Say (Andy Gray) soon discovers LV’s talent for impersonating famous singers and eagerly pushes her into the unwanted limelight.
A flourish of pantomime glitter helps director Michael Harrison combine his mixture of terrifically disturbed characters with the pink stairs and green walls of Annette Gillies’ vibrantly expressive multi-level set. From Elaine C Smith’s obstreperous entrance to Ray Say’s questionable Y-fronts, the unceasingly obvious comedy (occasional malapropism aside) is performed with such gusto that it remains entertaining, with Smith’s piercing Mari Hoff enforcing a dose of tinnitus for all during the brief moments of quiet introspection. Debbie Saloman’s turn showcases a vocal talent of power and grace, and provides a welcome break from the overbearing humour that ultimately detracts from the tragedy so important to Cartwright’s work, while Smith and Gray’s timing and telekinetic rapport is expectedly impeccable, negotiating the seemingly awkward lack of direction that might leave a less experienced cast floundering. With a Scottish twang, this enjoyable star-driven work certainly has its audience, but like LV’s mother it’s just a little more sparkle than substance.