The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Previewed 8 October 2009, Opened 20 October 2009, Closed 30 January 2010 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London

A major revival of Jim Cartwright's play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in London starring X Factor's Diana Vickers and directed by Terry Johnson.

The cast for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice features Diana Vickers as 'Little Voice' (LV), Lesley Sharp as 'Mari Hoff', Marc Warren as 'Ray Say' and Tony Haygarth as 'Mr Boo' with Rachel Lumbert as 'Sadie', James Cartwright as 'Billy' and Tim Parker. It is directed by Terry Johnson with choreography by Lynne Page, designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Ben and Max Ringham and sound by Ian Dickinson.

"The point about The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, Jim Cartwright's vibrant contemporary fairy tale about a withdrawn Lancashire lass who can only express herself when she sings the songs of Judy Garland, Edith Piaf and Marilyn Monroe, is that she needs a belter of a voice and, if not an ability to act, a flair for impersonation. So casting X Factor runner-up Diana Vickers in the role of Little Voice (LV) is an odd choice. Her problem - if you can call it one - is that husky-throated, clawfingered, face-stroking, barefoot Diana has a distinct style and sound... Actually, she has just the right waif-like quality required for LV, whose idea of a slap-up dinner is an unembellished Ryvita. She's rather good, too, at being invisible, slinking upstairs to get away from the hell that is her drunk slapper of a mother dancing to Michael Jackson, to recreate the heaven she shared with her dead father, singing along to the divas in his old LP collection. Her Dusty Springfield isn't bad, but impersonation isn't really Vickers' thing. She can only be herself, which is what she is at the end of the show in a bland, new, specially written song by Take That's Mark Owen... Director Terry Johnson should make LV open up the throttle and let rip and Lesley Sharp turn it down as her big-mouth mother, Mari, mutton dressed as lamb or, more accurately, Lancashire hotpot... She's a wonderfully comic - and ultimately pathetic - creation and Sharp never lets up for an instant, but she upsets the balance of the play, busting out all over in every sense. The rest of the characters seem too small and underwritten by comparison, and the whole play is too long." The Mail on Sunday

"As Little Voice, Diana Vickers, a star of last year's X Factor, does indeed have a quite superb voice, but otherwise this is all desperately poor stuff. The dialogue is wearisome and clunky, the acting crude and overdone to the point of pantomime, especially from that usually fine actress Sharp. The director, Terry Johnson, previously responsible for triumphs such as La Cage aux Folles and Rain Man, doesn't seem to have a clue how to handle it, and the writer Jim Cartwright's sense of comedy is closely related to that of an early-1970s sitcom - On the Buses, say." The Sunday Times

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 8 October 2009, opened on 20 October 2009 and closed on 30 January 2010.


The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice - 1992 with Jane Horrocks and Alison Steadman

Opened 14 October 1992, Closed 13 February 1993 at the Aldwych Theatre in London

The acclaimed National Theatre's production of Jim Cartwright's new play The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice in London starring Alison Steadman and Jane Horrocks.

The cast features Alison Steadman as 'Mari Hoff', Jane Horrocks as 'Little Voice' and Pete Postlethwaite as 'Ray Say' with Annette Badland, George Raistrick and Adrian Hood. Directed by Sam Mendes with movement and choreography by Jane Gibson, designs by William Dudley, lighting by Mick Hughes and music by Terry Davies. Originally seen at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre (previewed from 8 June 1992, opened on 16 June 1992 and closed on 9 September 1992).

"Jim Cartwright has concocted a big, bold part for one of our most underrated actresses. From the moment Alison Steadman reels onboard in her purple blouse and frizzy orange hair, rasping and braying and casually vomiting into a cluttered sink, there is never a moment's doubt who is in command of the stage, our attention and the evening as a whole. That is all to the good, for it distracts us from the weaknesses of the story whose exuberant epicentre she is... To her mother, Jane Horrocks' fearful, scuttling Little Voice is an object of irritation and contempt... But she means rather more to her mother's latest pick-up, a theatrical agent precariously subsisting on the talents of the odd stripper and deadbeat comic... For the rest of the play she is pulled one way by the showbiz profiteers and the other by her chronic shyness: a tussle complicated both by her mother's jealousy and by the intervention of a wooer in the form of a bashful telephone engineer. The result is a mixture oddly reminiscent of the north-country comedy of an earlier era of romantic whimsy and ebullient cartoon, sentimentality and brash observation. It is often hard to believe; but, thanks to the joint energies of Cartwright's pen and Sam Mendes's cast, it is always harder to dislike." The Times

"Outstanding actress Alison Steadman has already created one of the great theatrical monsters in Beverley, the harpy-hostess from Abigail's Party. She now surpasses herself with an awesome display of vulgarity in Jim Cartwright's new play... Jane Horrocks is immensely touching as the girl with the golden tonsils who can imitate every chanteuse from Shirley Bassey to Edith Piaf. Cartwright's florid language creates an extraordinary fable out of a very slender story. Sam Mendes' production ensures it has maximum impact and the crude vitality of Steadman is hilarious. Meanwhile you are unlikely to hear more convincing renditions of I Want To Be Loved By You and Get Happy without disinterring the original singers." The Daily Express

"It's a Bolton showbiz fairytale, a back-street Cinderella-story with a built-in kick. You can forgive its stop-go rhythm and its odd, overwrought passages because of its natural warmth and because it affords such generous opportunities to Jane Horrocks and Alison Steadman. Ms Horrocks is the Little Voice of the title: a painfully shy, waif-like agoraphobe with a hidden talent for doing impressions of Judy Garland and Edith Piaf, Cilla Black and Gracie Fields in the privacy of her bedroom. Ms Steadman meanwhile is her coarse, boozy, widowed mum who is only woken up to her daughter's showbiz potential by her spivvy agent boyfriend... Sam Mendes's production needs to be faster and snappier; one scene should dissolve into the next instead of being punctuated by breaks for jazz-drumming. But William Dudley's angled, wallpapered, split-level set is a triumph of bad taste and the two leads are impeccable.... And there is sterling support from Pete Postlethwaite as the small-time agent, Annette Badland as an illiterate neighbour and George Raistrick as a tatty club-owner in a dust-mop wig." The Guardian

The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice in London at the Aldwych Theatre opend on 14 October 1992 and closed on 13 February 1993