Little Voice play has lots to recommend it

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The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice was a cracking, award-winning play when it first debuted 22 years, and judging by the latest production at Derby Theatre, it’s still got all the ingredients for an enjoyable night out at the theatre.

Jim Cartwright’s play showcased Jane Horrocks’s amazing facility for singing impressions when it was first seen, and Rebecca Brierley’s talents in this area certainly do not pale by comparison.

Directed by Derby Theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham, The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice is set in an unspecified Northern town in the late 80s and focuses on LV (Little Voice), a shy young woman mourning the death of her father and taking solace in the old records he left her, featuring the likes of Judy Garland, Cilla Black, Billie Holliday and others.

LV has learned to mimic their styles and is able to escape into the music from the harsh reality of her humdrum life with her loud, brassy, selfish mum Mari.

When LV is overheard by Mari’s new boyfriend, club agent Ray Say, he spots his passport to the big time, riding on the coat-tails of her genuine talent, but LV is reluctant to step into the spotlight and pursue a career that is not of her own choosing.

This is a play with two plum female parts and, as LV and Mari respectively, newcomer Rebecca Brierley and former Emmerdale and EastEnders star Tracy Brabin.

The first half of the play definitely belongs to Brabin, who manages to make Mari larger-than-life, brash and brassy without being offputtingly overpowering.

Hers is a very impressive performance that provides plenty of laughs and won the audience’s acclaim in no uncertain terms.

The second half is when Brierley really comes into her own as LV steps onto the clubland scene and wows everyone with her outstanding vocal prowess.

Rebecca Brierley is excellent in both the singing and acting stakes while there is good comic support from Shameless’s Sue Vincent as Sadie, Mari’s monosyllabic friend, and Kevin McGowan as shifty Ray Say, the club agent with his own agenda and who is prepared to use Mari and LV to get what he wants.

High praise too for the revolving sets at Derby Theatre, the exemplary lighting and the musical duo of George Dyer and Samuel Edwards, who provided perfect accompaniment for LV during her songs.

With its mix of comedy, music and drama, The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice has plenty going for it, so make sure you catch it during its production at Derby Theatre, where it can be seen until November 22.

Call the box office for details on 01332 593939.