The darkness of the stage is lit up by a glistening moon, and a man with his face painted white stands on the side of the stage playing the accordion. We are then introduced to the Little Match Girl, as she tip toes onto stage in a desperate attempt to sell her matches.
Arthur Pita’s Little Match Girl is bursting with imagination from start to finish. It’s a tragic tale that is displayed through dance, with interjections of song and humour. It is a heartbreaking story of the Little Match Girl who has nothing to live on except a few mere matches that she sells, although despite this she is still dancing around with faith and optimism.
One cold Christmas eve, as the snow begins to fall, the Little Match Girl encounters some trouble and her shoes are stolen. Freezing cold and losing hope, the spirit of her beloved Grandmother appears and guides her up into the sky and through to the stars.
The magic of the production is like no other, it’s simplistically staged but intricately created. With an emphasis on the cold, as the Little Match Girl trudges bare foot through the snow, I felt myself shivering in the audience. It is an emotive and authentic piece of theatre that completely encapsulates you.
Told predominantly through dance, the Little Match Girl dances lightly through the town, and engages in a duet with various townspeople. A man comes along to light up the street lamps, after using one of her matches, they dance a delightful duet. The choreography is delicate combined with more robust moments during the frenzy of her harassment.
The dance is complimented through the musical trio that appear on stage in brightly coloured festive costume, their three-part harmony transition each scene and their music is completely compelling. However, the musical highlight belongs to the grandmother played by Angelo Smimmo who sings classical Italian opera softly to the Little Match Girl, warming the hearts of the audience.
Tim Van Eyken brings the story to life through live music. He plays a multitude of instruments and heightens the emotion with Frank Moon’s stunning score. Performed entirely in Italian, there is something very touching about the performance. It is the telling of a tale through different theatrical elements, and the combination of both dance, song, live music and humour works tremendously.
With the moon being a constant in the performance, lighting up the stage and watching over the action, Arthur Pita’s rendition of Hans Christian Anderson’s festive fairytale provides real Christmas magic with a beautiful core message.
On at the Lowry until the 26th of November, tickets can be found here.