The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, at Darlinghurst Theatre Company

Geraldine Hakewill as LV in The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice

I’m really pleased to be spending time with Darlinghurst Theatre Company this year - their whole mainstage season, in fact - not only because they do good work, but they’re also really lovely to work with. So it’s great to be ducking over to the Eternity Playhouse on a regular basis, all through 2019!

Our first production in this collaboration, which is on through 24 February at the Eternity Playhouse, is The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice - starring the amazing Caroline O’Connor as Mari, and the wonderful Geraldine Hakewill as her daughter “LV”.

Directed by Shaun Rennie - who I also worked with on Only Heaven Knows at the Hayes - it’s a dark comedy about finding your voice, breaking out of old relationship traps, and being true to yourself.

The cast - it hardly needs to be said - are stunning, and the design work is fantastic on all fronts, too. Trent Suidgeest’s lighting of Isabel Hudson’s set is exquisite; and of course that makes life easier for me, when it comes to photographing the show.

The interesting thing for me was that this is a double-level set - which mostly meant I needed to be on my toes, as the action shifted from the usual stage level to the second floor, meaning I needed to get to another row of seating in the theatre to be close to level with the actors (and not looking up into the ceiling, and the lights).

I find that’s important, in theatre photography - I usually want to be at about eye level with the actors, or just slightly lower, if I can.

If I’m looking down from above them, that has a few effects; we see more of the floor than anyone is interested in looking at, the vertical lines of the set start to converge, and the cast look smaller, or further away - which I think suggests to the viewer that the sightlines aren’t very good in the theatre, or that the audience aren’t very close. Which certainly isn't the case, here!

When I’m eye-level with the actors, we feel equal to them, looking at the images; by being just slightly lower, they seem elevated, powerful, important. While a wide-angle image of the stage gives context, and a sense of how big the production design is, even when I’m doing that I try to be level with the action - so the overall image is full, and still balanced.

But, that just means when the actors go up a floor, so do I!

Which means zipping out to the aisle, jumping up the stairs, then moving back towards the centre of the theatre (quietly, and without bumping into anything in the dark) - and changing to a longer lens, since I’m now further from the stage than I was, down in the second row…and then doing all the other things I normally do to make everyone happy as well, of course.

The cast and crew of The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice

The reviews for the production have been rightly enthusiastic, too -

★★★★½ "A production designed with care and featuring performances pitched to bring the audience into the cacophony that fills the silences inside human communication. [Caroline] O’Connor’s performance is tuned perfectly...and Geraldine Hakewell has a show-stopper where her hard work astonishes the audience.

Director Shaun Rennie gives the comedy full rein in the early part of the show especially in the use of physical humour to draw the audience in. As the deeper interrogation of avarice and self-delusion come into play, he elides his cast into a clearer discussion about trust and communication." - ArtsHub

★★★★ “Geraldine Hakewill, a rising talent on stage and screen, plays the skittish, sorrowful LV, who then summons all those familiar voices like a magic trick. In both guises Hakewill is terrific. In small, quiet ways she evokes all the empathy necessary from the audience. It’s a smart, sensitive performance.” - Daily Review

★★★★ "[Geraldine] Hakewill is agonisingly good as the awkward LV, stammering when she is forced to speak, her body contorting with the words. And when she sings she soars. She moves brilliantly between the voices of Bassey, Garland, Piaf and Marilyn Monroe, capturing their different vocal nuances." - Limelight Magazine

"Caroline O’Connor is scintillating as Mari, a lost but energetic soul, determined to find a man to rescue her from misery. O’Connor’s magnetism is the highlight of the piece, detailed and humorous; she keeps us totally engrossed. Geraldine Hakewill plays the eponymous role with an admirable intensity, particularly charming in her impersonations…" - Suzy Goes See

So it’s definitely one I’d recommend catching, if you get the chance!

The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice continues at the Eternity Playhouse until 24 February, 2019.

Cast:  Caroline O'Connor, Geraldine Hakewill, Joseph del Re, Charles Wu, Kip Chapman and Bishanyia Vincent

Playwright: Jim Cartwright
Director: Shaun Rennie
Production Designer: Isabel Hudson
Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest
Sound Designer: Kingsley Reeve
Musical Director: Andrew Kroenert
Accent & Dialect Coach: Linda Nicholls-Gidley
Stage Manager: Stephanie Thackray