"Theatrical, edgy, experimental story telling"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 07/02/18

As Emma Rice departs as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe in her final production “The Little Matchgirl (and other happier tales)” she has gathered together many of the theatrical flavours she craves. Director and Co-Adaptor along with Writer Joel Horwood together they have achieved a compassionate blend of traditional folk tales, deep contemporary meanings and an emotional snapshot of destitution. Hans Christian Anderson’s wonderful fairy tales lay bare both the magic and beauty of humanity but also visualises the terrible pain and suffering endured by so many. His moving pictures cover morality, social injustices, hunger even death but alongside promoting understanding, empathy and awareness to make us take notice.

The wonderfully life-like Little Matchgirl mesmerises throughout the show both as a mute passive bystander or when interacting with the other characters. She is expertly manoeuvred around the stage by puppeteer Edie Edmundson who barely takes her eyes off the shivering young waif. As the little girl strikes a match to try and keep warm a new tale is told by Ole Shuteye and his troupe. First up is “Thumbelina” and her defiant bravery, then onto the entertaining “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Princess and the Pea”, closing with the poignant Little Matchgirl’s tragic demise.

With startling innovative costumes, scaffolding, ladders, a mobile framed backdrop + a variety of props all of which assist this highly energetic multi-talented cast to bring their own special magic and wonderful observations in giving touching insight to these fables of pain, loss and heartbreak. Niall Ashdown not only plays Ole Shuteye with great aplomb but excels with his hilarious graphic fashion reveal in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” appealing greatly to the many schoolboys in the audience! The diminutive, spirited Katy Owen gives a standout performance both in her many roles and also compelling characterisation as Thumbelina interchanging with the mini puppet.
Quirky, humorous ~ a compassionate production rich in detail, full of vitality and highlights the widening gap between rich and poor. But the show has to belong to the most appealing, watchable little Matchgirl.

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