Bolton’s Octagon Theatre is on the move again, with the town’s Albert Halls playing host to The Rise and Fall of Little Voice while renovation works continue. Katie Elin-Salt, who played Little Voice in the Octagon’s 2012 version, reprises her role as the timid yet talented girl who finds comfort from her cruel mother, Mari (Sally George) in the songs of Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe.
A two-tiered set that visually divides Mari’s downstairs chaos and LV’s upstairs sanctuary nicely depicts the differences between mother and daughter. That said, its open framework structure does little to help the acoustics in a production that sometimes suffers from poor sound quality.
Mari’s screams open the show and she continues to dominate with her overbearing nature and incessant chatter. Emotional connection is impeded by the majority of stage time being afforded to a character who is so unremittingly unsympathetic.
It seems a shame that LV can “never get a word in”. Elin-Salt is convincing in the role, deftly transforming her movements as well as her voice to give an assured performance during the climactic scene.
Nuance also comes from Mark Moraghan, who manages the feat of adding subtlety to the character of Ray. While his self-serving motives remain evident, Ray displays tenderness when trying to coax LV out of her shell.
Unfortunately, the play is beset by similar problems to LV; its moments of excellence are fleeting. The production lacks finesse and would benefit from being a good deal shorter to distil the elements down into something purer.