Having seen, or more importantly heard, Jane Horrocks in the film version of Little Voice, I was curious to find out if Lauren Hood could sing. She can. A shy mouse for the majority of the play, her one big performance is a tour de force, with renditions of Edith Piaf, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Lulu, Shirley Bassey - actions as well as voices. There were other singers too whom I did not recognise. Lauren Hood pulls off this difficult mixture with aplomb.
Equally important is the part of the mother, Mari, played by Helen Sheals (who apparently played Little Voice herself many years ago). The roller coaster of emotions that this brash and noisy character goes through are skilfully portrayed: she is the loser in the end and she knows it. There are only 6 actors and they are all good: apart from mother and daughter there is Lisa Riley as Sadie the downtrodden friend (the dance that she does with Mari is a riot); Neil McCaul as the ambitious, calculating Ray; Jack Chissick as the terrible MC Mr. Boo; and Philip Hill-Pearson as Billy.
The set works well: the inside of the house is easily translated into a stage with a few quick changes. The direction is sharp and witty; the dance, the frequent amorous tumblings onto the sofa of Ray and Mari, even Ray spinning drunkenly as he tries to put his coat on, these all fit in smoothly. My only complaint would be that the microphone used for the ‘onstage’ performances is unpleasantly loud.
Hull Truck’s productions are always good: this production is particularly good, with excellent performances and not to be missed.