Monday, 19 September 2011

Little Voice, Little Audience

This weekend I saw Hull Truck's production of Jim Cartwright's infamous play, 'Little Voice'. The play was first performed by Hull Truck, starring Jane Horrocks in the lead role, and has since been made into a film of the same name starring, Horrocks, Ewan McGregor and Brenda Blethyn.

The production was nicely set, and had real energy from the beginning. Little Voice here was played by Lauren Hood, who's singing voice was truly wonderful and showed the range of emotion and character in those she was impersonating, whereas the rest of the performance was also an impersonation, this time of Jane Horrocks, but lacking the sparkle Horrocks added to the role.

Mari Hoff, the mother, was here played by Helen Sheals. The performance overall was sketchy in parts, particularly in moments of humour where laughs were expected but seldom came.

This lack of guffaw cannot be solely attributed to the performers, however, but rather that awkward feeling you have when you are one of only a handful of people. For a Saturday matinee of a show like this one could expect a packed house, filled to the gills with families, theatre goers and enthusiasts who had seen and loved the film. However, this show at the Rose told a different story. As I sat on my lone cushion in the pit of the theatre, I couldn't help but feel very isolated, as the remaining dozen of the audience sat 3 meters behind me and the action happened three meters in front. Inadvertantly my squirming had become part of the show.

My concern is who is going to the Rose Theatre? If the audience they were hoping to capture were people who enjoyed some light entertainment on a Saturday afternoon, they haven't succeeded. But then, does 'Little Voice' have anything to say the people of Richmond and Kingston in 2011?

My visit to the Rose this weekend left me thinking more about the theatre I was in rather than the show I watched. The audience numbers both saddened and angered me - not only because of this show but every subsequent ill-attended piece of theatre I've seen there. I was saddened that another theatrical resource isn't reaching out to the community it resides in - and angered for the same reason. Do the Rose know who their audeinces are? What they want? And what the're prepared to pay for? There are some serious questions to be asked, otherwise the future of this tehatre could be in jeopardy.

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