FRINGE REVIEW – Arkle Theatre Co – The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

*****

By Susan and Helen McNaughton

When searching the Fringe Programme for suitable material for a mother-and-teenage-daughter night out, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice seemed an appropriate choice, dealing as it does with the central characters’ mother/daughter relationship.

The stage at the Royal Scots Club provided an ideal venue for this show – with all seats having a reasonable view of the stage. The production made use of the stage as the upper floor of a house, with the area in front of the stage being set out as the living room and kitchen of the small property. Quick changes transformed the scene to different locations throughout the show.

The daughter is shy and can’t really be understood and this earns her the name ‘Little Voice’. Her mother is loud, outgoing and talkative and she never really lets Little Voice speak. They are in sad circumstances due to the death of Little Voice’s father, who left them nothing but his collection of records of female stars of the fifties and early 1960s. Little Voice plays these records over and over again learning the songs by heart and having a strange ability to imitate the voices accurately.

The play deals with various abusive relationships between the characters, with the women having a hard time escaping their circumstances.

The show features themes of drunkenness, abuse, poverty, and the lack of power of women to influence their future.

As a 14-year old watching this, our reviewer felt that there were some excellent performances. The singing by Elaine Graham in the title role was strong. However some of the lighter attempts at humour were lost in that she did not get the jokes.

In the age of the YouTube generation, it was interesting to see if the setting of the plot in the early 1970s would work – at one point the family is having a dial-telephone installed. It provoked some lively discussion after the show about whether it would be possible to set this in a different era – we’re still trying to work that one out.

The cast cast put in a strong emotional performance, with Wendy Brindle as Mari, the mother, being particularly strong and Bev Wright as Sadie sometimes stealing the limelight as the almost silent foil to Mari. The men involved in the performance gave creditable supporting performances to the central characters.

Overall the performance was to be recommended, but perhaps more suited to the generally older audience who made up the majority of the near-sell out performance. The 14+ age advice on the programme was correctly pitched.

Until 18 August at 18:00 (not 16th) @ Royal Scots Club – The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – Arkle Theatre Company

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