Did specific production elements affect you as a member of the audience? In February 2004, I went to the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester to see a production of Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. As an audience member, I found many of the production elements very effective. The stage was in the round, which created more intimacy as the actors were closer to the audience and on the same level.
This was effective because I thought that the audience was more involved with the play this way, and I felt that I was part of the story and part of LV’s audience when she sings. The stage had a record label in the center of it, which showed that the play was mostly based on music. When LV was singing in the club, the record label rotated. This was effective to me because not only could all of the audience see LV, but it also showed that her heart is in the music and that she needs to stop the record to get out of this quiet girl who gets walked all over that she has become.
She needs to confront her mother to get out of her rut and be who she wants to be. This also represented to me that the stage was just a view of the world in LV’s head. Her world had just collapsed into the record, and her life and mind revolve around her and her father’s love of music. Each section of the record was a different room, but each room still overlapped to create more intimacy. For example, two legs of LV’s bed were on her bedroom carpet, and the other two were actually on the pavement. To me, this frightened LV as she appeared to be a private person, but even people walking along the street outside her house were still too close to her liking.
This piece of set design was effective to me as a member of the audience. I felt that passers-by and even the audience appeared to be in LV’s bedroom, and maybe in her head, which made her even more insecure and private. This was effective to me as I live in a terraced house, and it has just shown me that people walking by my house can be within 18 inches of me, even complete strangers. This is quite a scary thought.
LV has a certain route around her house and takes it quite often. There is a section of carpet leading from the bedroom to the living room, which represents the stairs. This is effective because there isn’t another possible way of creating two floors as there are galleries in the theatre. Yet, there is still a strong image of there being two floors just because one small piece of carpet is so symbolic. The shape of the carpet is also in a stair-like shape.
Also, it showed that she has certain security habits, yet she is still trapped by them. The living room had a sofa, two chairs, and a coffee table with an ashtray on it, as well as a television set and a table for the TV. There were also four audience seats on stage next to one of the chairs, which invades the privacy of whoever is sitting in the living room. The kitchen had a sink with a fridge underneath it and a kettle, as well as a table with two chairs. However, there was also a huge telegraph pole in the kitchen, which symbolized the electricity failing and LV going out of her room, the only place she feels safe, and exposing herself to people.
This was effective because it showed that LV does have some courage and that she doesn’t just trap herself in her room. The telegraph pole also dominated the set as there was a part of it all around – the wires ran over the heads of the audience. This was central to the story as the telephone is what brings Billy into LV’s life, so even though it was Mari’s phone.