Arthur Pita’s stage adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic “ The Little Match Girl” is a touching journey of a poor and desolate little girl who starts cold and neglected but ends happy and sparkling.
The young dancer who plays the central character is a little gem of a performer. With effortless ease she is able to strike the right balance between innocence, vulnerability and above all humanity of a little girl against adversity. A match stick seller, she gets no sympathy-either from the street dwellers like herself or the more well heeled people enjoying the festivities behind well lit windows. People show no mercy instead she is pushed and shoved and bounced around by some. Some would cruelly destroy her sticks and her soft round face would turn red in concern. Others simply shut their doors on her. Hungry and cold the little girl watch their dark shadows cast on the shut windows, merry making in their warm lit up quarters. The fuming chimneys in contrast to the cold snowing streets set an ironic juxtaposition -The little girl who is cold in her rags, is warmer than those indoors. They are simply cold and unfeeling towards a little girl’s hopes and desires. This whole section is brilliantly depicted through eye catching choreography, stage set up, lights and costume.
The lit up town in the background, with a huge glistening moon in the middle of the dark winter sky, a street light standing in the corner and an occasional powdery snowfall give it that dreamy quality of a cold winter evening. The set perfectly complements the mood and the live music draws you in to feel the pangs for the little girl. Frank Moon’s music is in complete harmony to a children’s show. It has a soothing tinkle yet carries an undercurrent of melancholy to sync in with the theme.
The song sequences bring in the lighter comic moments. Pita skillfully weaves in bouts of laughter, to lend it a lighter atmosphere, which could otherwise be a little harsh for children to watch.
A complete reversal of mood sets in at this high point of suffering, when the little girl’s dead grandmother’s vision comes alive. She almost steps out of her grave stone where the little girl would light a match to keep herself warm and talk to her grandmother’s vision. They wrap around each other warm and the girl is eventually relieved from her impoverished state. She is taken on that one very special magical journey to the moon. A glistening ladder leads the way.
The show ends with a warm and bright finale- sufferings driven away, twinkling stars are lit up by the little girl’s magical match stick. A shimmering and dazzling night sky closes the show and happy faces leave the house, all geared up for a jingling Christmas ahead.