I entered the theatre from a very cold January day and was immediately captured by the warmth of the space. I’m not just talking about the venue, it was a very inviting and intimate theatre; I was energised by the buzz of the multi-generational audience, mesmerised by the image of the full moon on stage and enchanted by the beautiful, haunting melodies of the one-man-band Frank Moon.

Frank was the musical storyteller, the piped piper of all that played out on stage in the 90 minutes that followed. He used a myriad of music makers and his own voice, layered using loop technology, to welcome us into the magical world of The Little Match Girl. The sounds he composed perfectly mirrored the action on stage both in terms of movement, mood and emotion - the performers were given the wind to make Arthur Pita’s beautiful choreography take flight. The set, costume and lighting, by Yann Seabra and Ed Yetton, added to their voices and the cast and crew transported us, the audience, to a magical place.

Although the program stated that our story was set in an imagery Italian city I don’t think that was important, I was transfixed, I didn’t care where, it was the who that mattered the most. The Little Match Girl, played by Corey Claire Annad, entered the stage and immediately won my heart. The joy and fragility of her performance captured the very heart of every child, and in this case, a child seemingly alone in the universe. The supporting cast played multiple roles with ease, in fact I only realised this towards the end of the performance.

Karl Fagerlund Brekke, Valentina Golfieri and Angelo Smimmo created characters that fully inhabited the city. Characters that I laughed at, disliked and believed in; with movement and song that was a joy to see and hear. Angelo’s voice as the grandmother was particularly captivating, tugging at my heart-strings as she sang to her dying grand-daughter.

This performance captured the heart of the classic Hans Christian Anderson story but took it new heights, in fact it was out of this world!

I knew that The Little Match Girl would die, it’s a well-known story, however I wanted that moment to be delayed for as long as possible. When it did arrive, my sadness was instantly translated into pure joy and I shed a tear of happiness and wonder - I had not read the program before the performance and I am glad I didn’t because the twist in the story took me by surprise and made it even more magical; I’d advise you to do the same.

Then, before I knew it, the 90 minutes upon the stage had passed, the story was at an end. All the performers received rapturous applause and it was well-deserved. They finished with a jig of joyfulness before The Little Match Girl blew out the only light that remained.

Truly magical, heart-warming and uplifting, I cannot recommend this performance enough. This is a must-see!

Reviewer: Alan Harbottle

Reviewed: 16th January 2016

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