REVIEW: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Barn Theatre, Cirencester

Box Office 01285 648255

SOMETIMES I have to pinch myself that we now have a professional theatre company, with its own state of the art theatre, here in Cirencester.

Very few theatres produce their own work these days, most lowering the risk by only hosting touring productions.

You have to drive for over an hour to find another producing theatre. We really have something special here and it seems that the people of The Cotswolds have quickly recognised this, by supporting shows at the Barn Theatre in their droves. The demand was always there.

Personally I feel that the best choice of show so far at the Barn Theatre is the current one - Jim cartwright’s “The Rise and Fall of Little voice” – one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century.

So good was the original production it was made into a film, but you can’t beat the live experience, and it’s a rare opportunity.

Michael Strassen’s directing does this dark but funny play justice, made possible with a strong cast and an imaginative but practical design from Christina Cammarota.

Exploding fuse boxes punctuate the action of this tragi-comic play, as if a metaphor.

The diminutive heroine, known as Little Voice, hides in her room, playing her dead father’s records, in order to escape her alcoholic mother’s intrusions.

But Little Voice has a hidden talent - she can emulate every chanteuse from Judy Garland to Edith Piaf.

Sarah Louise Hughes is a great find for the Barn Theatre, delivering this role for her professional debut. Hughes delivers a huge contrast between the two sides of the character – rather depressing as the quiet daughter, then almost grotesque when inhabiting the singers in her dead father’s record collection. Appropriately, neither side of her character is comfortable to watch.

Meanwhile Little Voice’s mother Mari, brilliantly played by Gillian McCafferty, gets the lion share of Cartwright’s juicy words, vile words beautifully crafted to make poetry out of poverty.

Tragically dishevelled, Mari mistakes a seedy agent’s interest as affection rather than his opportunity to make money out of her daughter’s talents. McCafferty gives a towering performance of a character effectively being dismantled, whilst in contrast her daughter eventually begins to find her true ‘voice’.

Well done Barn Theatre. Keep them coming!


The Rise and Fall of Little Voice runs in the Barn Theatre until August 4 2018.

Review by Russell Blackaller