Bev and Jess steal Little Voice show

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Whatever director-writer Jim Cartwright said to his cast in the interval did the job.

Because the second half performance was blisteringly good – the actors came out like premiership players who had been given a good kick up the backside and delivered a silver-ware winning show.

Beverley Callard – who had played a captain’s role right from the start - just got better and better as the alcholic neglectful mum Mari Hoff.

Tottering about in high-heels and squeezed into too-tight outfits, she stole the show with well-delivered one-liners and an energy which left the others wavering in her cheap-perfumed, booze-fuelled wake. Her scenes with fat friend Sadie, played perfectly by Sally Plumb, were highlights.

Jess Robinson plays LV, the shy young woman with the big voice her mum and seedy boyfriend Ray Say seek to exploit, goes from meek and timid to fiesty and fiery in a heartbeat. Her showstopping impressions of Garland, Streisand, Bassey et al were spinetinglingly good – the scene where she fends off Ray Say in a multitude of lines from songs in various voices is superb.

Joe McGann is Ray Say. He grows into the sleazy character and ends with a blood-letting savage verbal attack on Mari and a drunken defeated rendition of It’s Over.

Cartwright, directing his own work, sets the whole piece in Mr Boo’s – so the audience enters the auditorium to Duggie Brown’s patter, the chance to buy raffle tickets and watch a few club acts. It worked a treat, for me. Nothing I like better than a sing-along with a female George Formby impressionist, honest.

This was a game of two halves with the cast saving the best to last.