Little match girl

The pompous, outrageous and yet well to do Donnarumma family

The Little Match Girl


Birmingham Hippodrome


ARTHUR Pita adds a sprinkling of Raymond Briggs to this enchanting adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s, The Little Match Girl.

The original story is darkly sad but here this company of just four dancers and a single musician, who manages to create most of the complex music live, add some comic elements and a lot of pure visual joy to the telling of this classic tale. 

Firstly Musician Frank Moon, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire begins the proceedings with the building of a folk type track as the audience were sematchgirl and spacemanated. Using an array of stringed instruments and his voice which were all captured on array of electronic devices namely loop boxes.

These allow the solo performer to record a set of bars live and then add additional musical layers to the piece as it evolves. To do this on its own is a skill, but to do live and accurately creating the principle pieces for the dancers to work with is another matter.

We begin under the moon light of an imaginary Italian city in the middle of winter. The Little Match girl, danced elegantly by Corey Claire Annand, is trying to sell her matches to the well to do but no one wants them.

A spaceman came travelling to join the little match girl in her night of magic 

Enter the pompous, outrageous and yet well to do Donnarumma family.  This features dancers Valtino Golfieri and Karl Fagerlund Brekke with Angelino Smimmo, the latter pair  taking on a range of other roles throughout the evening. Dressed to 18th Century Italian extremes the trio had a very Pythonesque comical appearance about them.

They despise the poverty of The Little Match Girl and refuse her pleas to buy her wares. Cold, hungry and alone she visits the grave of her beloved grandmother, striking matches to catch a glimpse of her image on the headstone.

As the night gets colder she runs into another wicked pair of match sellers, who attack her and there is some very effective dance here that elevates her plight.

Finally in desperation she beats on the doors of houses but no one wants to let her in and this leads to a chase and another beating at the hands of the Donnarumma family again. Lost and forlorn she makes her way once more to the graveyard and under the falling snow, she passes away.

Then from the grave, her grandmother appears and cradles her. The production truly opens up at this point as the combined music of Frank Moon and simple staging captures the full sensitivity of the moment.

It’s here where things begin to get a little Briggs like as the spirit of the little match girl rises and climbs a sparkling ladder to the moon. Then a lunar spaceman appears who dances with her, leaving her to finally light the stars with her matches.

Throughout the production the dance fully interprets the story and with the some simple clever staging by Yann Seabra you are transported to a variety of locations all aided by some effective lighting by Ed Yetton.

Arthur Pita has worked a little magic into The Little Match Girl, adding just the right mixture of dance, comedy, costume and a spark of Christmas wonder for all ages that makes it worth catching wherever you can.

Jeff Grant


The Little Match Girl runs at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Saddlers Wells Theatre, London, from 12 December, 2015, to 3 January, 2016  


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