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The Little Match Girl at The Patrick Centre - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Arthur Pita's eccentric version is magical
Inventive yet also magical, this enchanting dance production of The Little Match Girl is a quirky delight for all ages.

The Little Match Girl1
The Little Match Girl, performed as part of a season by Birmingham's DanceXchange

This dance adaptation, based on Hans Christian Andersen's sad tale, features playful and distinctive music performed live by Frank Moon (at the side of the stage) and a cavalcade of larger than life, almost pantomime, characters. It is the latest production at Birmingham's Patrick Centre by DanceXchange.

Following the impoverished life of a poor match girl in what seems to be late 1800s Italy, judging by the delightful Italian songs, this story is far from a light-hearted fairytale, especially as the original was about a child's hopes as she dies of hypothermia.

There's plenty of depth to this production as we see our precious fragile heroine fall foul of rival match sellers and a greedy rich family unimpressed with her begging. We can almost feel her hunger and shivering from the cold snow as she lights match after match on stage.

All the action takes place below a large glowing full moon and as we move on with the plot, the match girl even ends up on said moon with clever sound effects, moon buggies and a dance with an astronaut. It sounds bizarre, but believe me, it fits in beautifully..

The Little Match Girl2
Famed choreographer Arthur Pita is behind The Little Match Girl

There's memorable routines too by famed choreographer Arthur Pita, who was nominated for this year's Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for his choreography for Ballet Black - A Dream Within A Midsummer Night's Dream. He was also responsible for the multi award-winning adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

What's more, the imaginative use of light, shadow and match flames add another dimension to the production. While there's only a small cast, they all impress, particularly Corey Claire Annand in the title role. She skips through her dance steps and straight into your heart as the troubled child.

Equally as memorable is Valentina Golfieri as a rival match boy and hideous daughter in the rich Donnarumma family. She not only shows talent as a dancer but also as a character actress.

The show is in collaboration with Open Heart Productions and DanceEast and is another impressive autumn season staging from DanceXchange, which recently included Dracula. It's quickly becoming a recognisable name in promoting the cream of UK dance productions.

Creative and filled with a magical atmosphere, this is a delightful adaptation of a classic fairytale with an added twist. In the run up to Christmas, it's an uplifting, sentimental gift of a show that children and adults will both enjoy.

Rating: 8/10

The Little Match Girl
DanceXchange Season
Patrick Centre
Nov 27 - 29
Tickets cost £8 - £12 and are available from the DanceXchange website.
Running time: 70 minutes with no interval

Friday 28th Nov 2014 1:30pm – 2:40pm
Friday 28th Nov 2014 7pm – 8:10pm
Saturday 29th Nov 2014 3pm – 4:10pm
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Why? Magical fairytale dance show by famed choreographer
When: November 27 - 29
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Pat
Cost: £8 - £12
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