Pros: A charming and engaging children’s show that kept the young audience enchanted and laughing throughout.
Cons: Obviously it’s a show for kids, not adults, so not suitable for the usual theatre audience.
It needs to be made clear from the outset that The Little Match Girl is not aimed in any way at me, nor the majority of people who will be reading this. I left childhood a long time ago, and this is a show that is for young children and parents who wish to take their children to experience the wonders of live theatre. All the same it doesn’t mean the charm of both the venue and the performance was lost on me. Rather, I was able to sit back and watch the enjoyment going on around me, making it very obvious that this was a show that hit home exactly as it was intended.
The venue, The Blue Elephant Theatre, hidden in the midst of a local housing estate, feels like a great and successful experiment to bring theatre out into new areas. Given that this was a children’s performance, it had a very different feel to what I would expect it normally has, but this was again not a bad thing. The friendly and warm welcome that began at the ticket office, continued into the spacious bar, and finished in the theatre space itself all suggested that this would be a great place to return to for any other performance. I only hope the cushions supplied on the benches tonight are a standard feature, it really was so comfortable.
For this early evening performance, the feel was one of joyful life, a perfect way to feel Christmas had arrived. The bar, whilst still serving alcohol, was more of a playroom. Tables were littered with paper, crayons and small toys, all thoroughly used as we waited for show time. There was more juice and water being consumed than alcohol here. The atmosphere was further added to as the three performers came into the bar to chat to the children and allow endless photos to be taken with the show’s star, the match girl herself, a wonderful looking puppet sitting on the shoulder of one of the performers.
The show itself really needs to be viewed from a child’s point of view. Doing so, it seems obvious why the audience were kept so engaged. The three performers had a charm and relaxed nature perfect for the role. As they danced, sung and had snowball fights, it was clear that the children were totally absorbed. And from an older perspective, all three eluded enough talent that their skills would easily transfer into a more traditional performance role should they ever wish to do so. The puppetry, from the match girl herself to the assorted smaller animals and even a snowman, were masterfully controlled, your eyes drawn to the puppets and not the performer behind them, a clear nod to the skills of our three marvellous performers, Maia, Venetia and Isabel. The way they engaged the children and made them part of the show was enough for even the most cynically amongst us to break into a smile.
Even viewing this as someone more use to, shall we say, grown-up theatre, there was enough to admire and realise that this was a well thought-out show. From the great venue, that’s well worth a visit, to the delightful and talented performers, there is no way you can not feel involved in this. For anyone with children, you couldn’t go too wrong in looking out for this artistic group as they tour this show or others in the future.
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Adapted by: Gabrielle Malcolm
Director: Alice Sillett
Production Company: Moon On A Stick
Booking until: 16th December
Box office: 020 7701 0100
Booking link: www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk