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Review: The Little Matchgirl – Theatr Clwyd

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl, it combines The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Thumbelina, we enter a world of magic and mystery and everyone is invited!

By Emma Tattum | @EmmaT1995

★★★★ 

Wandering into Theatr Clwyd, we are greeted by a wall with red graffiti, tiers of scaffolding and small props littered on the stage. This, paired with the brilliant lighting, foreshadows the mood of what’s ahead.

The Little Matchgirl consists of many layers, including music composed by Stephen Warbeck and performed on stage by the talented trio (Jon Gingell, Alex Heane and Dave Johnzy), the exquisite sets by Vicki Mortimer, weirdly wonderful costumes, life-like puppetry and heart-wrenching moments, all with a twist of comedy.

 

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Photography by: Steve Tanner

 

At the centre of it all is The Little Matchgirl herself (a puppet that has been beautifully crafted and controlled by Sarah Wright and Lyndie Wright). She’s alone, scared and vulnerable, selling matches to try and get by. 

With the strike of each match, we are led into a new tale as told by Ole Shuteye (Niall Ashdown) and his group of storytellers. He almost has the task of the ringmaster, bringing laughter, applause, gasps and thrills, and later becomes the extremely fashion conscious Emperor in which he quite literally ‘bares all’ during the telling of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Katy Owen’s depiction of Thumbelina is fantastic. For a character so small, she has a very big heart. Owen’s brings a tone of energy, emotion and heartfelt moments with this character. Her multiple roles in this production are a credit to her endless talents.

The Princess and the Pea see’s the Prince (Guy Hughes) lose his one true love, the Princess (Kezrina James), over his lack of trust for her. A classic tale we all know and love, ending in tragedy. James gives such an emotive and beautiful performance as the Princess. There’s some gorgeous dancing between her and Hughes.

Amidst the timeless tales, there’s one character that seems to show up in every one, that’s Jackson (Elizabeth Westcott). Jackson is rarely given the chance to speak, but provides a lifeline to one character in particular.

In a short but devastating final few scenes, issues of homelessness on our streets are represented, which leaves you with a mixed bag of emotions, but with laughter and cheers all the way through, it truly is a must see.

From beginning to end it’s littered with references to popular culture, you know, referendums, Donald Trump and those cheesy pop belters we all just can’t help but sing along to.

A perfectly magical show to kick off the New Year for both children and adults alike. It’s a remarkable theatre experience with a strong cast of fantastic actors and actresses.

The Little Matchgirl runs until February 3 at Theatr Clwyd. For tickets and more information click here.

 

 

 

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