On Christmas Eve in a snow-dusted Italian town, under distant winter stars, the Little Match Girl plies her humble wares to a rich Italian family. Like everyone else, they push her aside, and she retreats to her grandmother’s tomb in the cemetery for comfort. But Christmas Eve is no ordinary night, and the grandmother appears in a vision to carry the Little Match Girl away from her troubles to the magical world of the moon.
Combining his ecstatic choreography with a scattering of Italian operatics, some truly original live music and Yann Seabra’s innovative but unpretentious set, Arthur Pita plays to his dance theatre roots. The rather grim Hans Christian Anderson fairytale retains a sly streak of the brutal (this is Pita, after all), but is transformed into a fantastical adventure, complete with lunar exploration vehicles and a weightless pas-de-deux with an astronaut.
Frank Moon’s mix of live and pre-recorded music is more like a soundscape than a score, filling in narrative details like an extra character. He remains to the side of the stage, surrounded by a heap of instruments (he'll get through them all in the course of the show) and staring weirdly out at the audience through black shadowed eyes. Another gem of the piece is the use of a countertenor voice, layering richly over his fellows.
Costumes just the right side of pantomime keep the piece planted in a dreamy period atmosphere.
Named “a gem,” and “wonderfully inventive,” by critics, the whole production sparkles with stars and little match flames. It’s enchanting for all the family, and a great opportunity to catch a raucous choreographer for once happy to settle for telling a great story.
|What||The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio|
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
13 Dec 17 – 24 Dec 17, Shows at 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 19:00
|Website||Click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website|