Theatre review: The Little Match Girl

I had no idea what to expect when I booked a last minute ticket to see The Little Match Girl at The Lowry, but it turned out that a snowy Saturday was the perfect day to watch it. This short one hour show created by Arthur Pita is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story of a poor little girl trying to sell matches on the street on a snowy Christmas Eve. The wintry setting was exactly like the weather outside, so I could empathise perfectly with the poor freezing little girl.

The Little Match Girl

It was quite a simple production, with just a few pieces of set and a small cast of 5, including the 4 talented dancers who each take on several very different characters, and the on-stage live musician (who was actually the composer himself) with his varied collection of instruments. So it’s actually very impressive how they managed to tell the story just through the power of great acting, dance and even some opera (sung in Italian); by creating different moods with sound effects; and with a lot of creativity.

The story itself is actually very sad – after encountering some friendly and some creepy characters but selling nothing to anyone, the little match girl lights the last of her matches to help her see visions of her dead grandmother, who sings her a lullaby about the moon while she quietly dies from the cold. So yes, it had some quite sad parts to it, especially when you think about the real world problem of homelessness during the cold winter months. But there were also some humorous moments and some touching ones. The ending itself felt magical rather than sad because the girl and her grandmother are reunited (in death) and both spend their days living together happily on the moon and dancing with astronauts.

It is a supposed to be a piece of children’s theatre, and partway through I did wonder if it was actually suitable for children because some of the characters and moments were quite creepy, but the children in the audience really seemed to like it. I also enjoyed it and found it very imaginative, thought-provoking and memorable so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with an hour to spare.

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