The title of A Voice immediately raises questions about the role assigned to the protagonist. She is one voice among many - beset by her own desires, and by the fickle expectations of her fans. She is surrounded by those who would attack or adore her, and yet she stands alone. Her voice is the only thing people want from her, and it is the only thing she has with which to tell her story.
That story is about a young girl plucked from obscurity in 1960s France to become a successful singer - but it starts and ends with a scandal a decade later, which threatens to end her career. A single performer evokes both past and present by playing out scenes from the girl’s life, sometimes narrating, sometimes singing and sometimes holding conversations with other characters who never physically appear.
It’s very difficult to tell a story well by only showing one side of a scene, and in lesser productions it's often done very badly. Here though, the realism is well-maintained, and the story is made clear without too much unnecessary repetition of what the invisible characters are supposedly saying. The fact that the other characters are so strongly presented is a testament to the actress’ ability to change her body language and responses depending on who she is talking to.
The character she is portraying is complex, and her short history has a lot to say about many topics: sibling rivalry, abuse of power, the vulnerability of young performers seeking fame, and the speed with which public opinion can change. The audience often understands more than the character does, lending her situation additional poignancy; and yet we don’t want her innocence to be destroyed. It perhaps goes on a bit too long though, and the subtlety of the earlier sections gives way to a slightly jarring brutality of presentation in the second half.
But overall it's a challenging show with a nuanced and powerful solo performance, which looks to the past to reflect issues that are still very much in evidence in show-business today. This is a voice that is often lost in the glitz and glamour of the music industry, but it is one that deserves to be heard.