Monday, March 17, 2008

"The Rise and Fall of Little Voice" - March 2008

We travelled to Perth Theatre hopefully, but I always knew this could be a love it/hate it moment. On the plus side we'd seen the play only last year and enjoyed it immensely, and had also previously been impressed by a serious side to Andy Gray. On the negative side of things it's an incredibly difficult role to fill, and I'm not a huge fan of the 'Pure Dead Glasgow' humour that Elaine C Smith and Gray can often find themselves involved with. But the advance press had suggested a darker tone to their production - which is much more my kind of thing.

In the first act Gray, and particularly Smith (as promoter Ray Say and LV's mother Mari) go all out for laughs. Not smart laughs, just every cheap gag thats going. To be fair, it's done well - it just isn't to my taste. The audience clearly enjoyed the knockabout fun, and if that was the tone for the whole show it wouldn't be a problem. But it's so strongly comedic that it swamps the more serious elements hinted at in the first act. Then, when the play takes its dark turn towards the end, the audience are so conditioned for the laughter that many continued to laugh at moments that should be heartbreaking. And it's such a shame because Gray and Smith really do get their teeth into their characters bitterness and cruelty.

Debbie Saloman as LV gives good performances as Garland, Bassey, Piaf, Monroe etc but they do come across as performances/impersonations - it's undoubtedly impressive but lacked a true 'wow' factor. I enjoyed her acting performance once the 'worm turned', but at times her LV came across more as a stroppy teenager than a timid victim of neglect and abuse. Similarly Jim Webster-Stewart's Billy was a little too sociable and didn't really meet the image of a soulmate for LV. Peter Kelly's performance as Mr Boo is crippled by an appalling stand up routine that fails to be sufficiently funny - or even corny enough to induce appreciative groans.

If you want to see Elaine C Smith and Andy Gray do their much loved panto turns out of season - "Little Voice" will fit the bill. But for me, perhaps unfairly, I can't help feel this was a missed opportunity for them to show how much more they can do. As we were leaving the theatre there were plenty of people around us saying how 'good' it was - but done well this show shouldn't be 'good' - it should leave audiences absolutely blown away.

'Little Voice' continues in Perth until Sat 29th March and then tours Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Kirkcaldy, Glasgow & Stirling.

4 Heckles

Bluedog said...

I was not happy with this show, seen at a packed out preview. Elaine C Smith was simply playing Elaine C Smith too much. I would have been far happier to see someone else in this role, which then might have allowed the piece itself room to breathe.

The audience seemed to love it, but like you, I have seen it done better - a good production at Dundee Rep a few years ago was far better than this. And one where the set really did have real flames.

Statler said...

To be fair, I suspect the mistake was ours rather than the production's. They seem to know (most) of their audience pretty well and it would be a fairly substantial commercial risk to give them something different to what they have come to expect. I guess the last thing they want is people telling their friends they "seen that Elaine C Smith the other day... and she wisnae very funny."

I'd still love to see Smith and/or Gray do something completely straight, but I think in future I'll wait until the reviews confirm it rather than booking tickets in hope.

Anonymous said...

Saw the show tonight in Dundee.
Kinda of agree with you both but audience did still laugh - but even at the serious bits which was a bit disconcering.There were a few wee sobs though near the end.
not concerned about the lack of real flames as siting in the 2nd row with my mother!!

Littlelou said...

I saw the show In Kirkcaldy and thought that Debbie Saloman was sensational!