The Little Match Girl

  • Theatre
  • West End
Critics' choice
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A heart-warming family take on the sad fairy tale.

Hip choreographer Arthur Pita’s latest dance piece, ‘The Little Match Girl’, is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and involves a poor little match girl who is cast aside by her cruel neighbours on Christmas Eve. It is performed in Italian, incorporates ballet and opera and even a ghostly journey to the moon. It could have been obscure but instead is funny, emotive and effortlessly moving.

Corey Claire Annand plays the girl Fiametta, who spends her days trying to sell matches. Annand is an expressive and relaxed performer, dancing as if it comes as naturally to her as walking. This ease of performance is reflected among all the cast, ensuring an informality appropriate to a family (ages five-plus) show.

The other three performers provide a vicious counterpoint to Annand’s delicate innocence. Valentia Golfieri is excellent as the puffed up, petticoat-laden Angelica, scowling and stomping about with real menace. At one point, the little match girl shivers outside in the cold, as we watch a silhouette of Angelica and her rich family quaff champagne in the warm indoor glow.

These vibrant characters are complemented by Frank Moon’s subtle soundtrack, which he performs using an eclectic range of instruments, including a theramin (otherworldy) and cittern (soulful). Yann Seabra’s simple set – really just a great big moon and a lot of snow – completes the picture. When the little match girl finally finds happiness – in the afterlife, alas – and lights up the sky with stars, satisfied sighs ring around the audience.

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