Douglas Irvine’s direction of Jim Cartwright’s award-winning script has created a production for Visible Fiction which sings out as loudly as its heroine - but in a way which lacks the subtlety of understanding for the raw material that she eventually discovers.
There is much to entertain here, however. In particular Wendy Seager is boldly brassy and uncouth as Mari, Little Voice’s alcoholic mother. Her performance is at the heart of both the production’s success and its weaknesses. Indeed, it is its very comedy that hides the story’s tragic depths.
Denise Hoey is very well cast as Little Voice. She combines the character’s pathos with a strong enough voice to carry out the impersonations - of the divas in her dead father’s record collection - which take her from the solitude of her bedroom to the raw spotlight of the local club.
Barrie Hunter slips comfortably through the production as the narrator and the club’s MC, Mr Boo, building a great rapport with the audience. Lynne McCallum clearly enjoys her performance as Mari’s exploited and simple neighbour, Sadie, helping to increase the humour content.
As Ray Say, local Lothario and would-be club entrepreneur, Stewart Porter gets closest to the tragedy inside the script, while Scott Garnham fleshes out the depths as much as he can as quiet telephone engineer, Billy, who falls for Little Voice.
Excellent use is made of Becky Minto’s flattened design, convincingly combined with Graham Sutherland sound design to replace any cluttering props with effects. A pleasing production, if over-simplified.