Wow, what a fabulous evening .. we laughed, we cried, we marvelled, we were made to think and we laughed again (a lot). The kids loved it, the adults loved it, we all loved it.
"Struggling to keep warm on the freezing winter streets, our impoverished heroine begins to strike her dwindling stock of matches. Each match she strikes conjures a new story, and while it burns she escapes into an enchanting world of magic and mystery. Inspired by the beautiful Hans Christian Andersen tales, we follow her through the spell-binding stories of The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor's New Clothes and Thumbelina."
This is a really great show, modern but without spoiling the original tales and cleverly drawing them together into a coherent, entertaining, whole. This does not have the usual Christmas story ending (no spoilers but it is based around the Little Matchgirl!) but the world we are drawn into requires us to think and to feel rather than just watch, and to remember those much less fortunate.
The Matchgirl herself is present throughout and is a delight to watch, even when she is just in a corner observing she is never less than utterly credible and Edie Edmundson's puppetry is superb. The stories come through Ole Shuteye and the Shuteyes chorus with music from The Swan Vestas! Niall Ashdown's Ole Shuteye is the engine that drives a lot of the show - telling the tales, introducing the characters, handling the audience - all these are his and and handled superbly. Katy Owen's Thumbelina is excellent and the entire chorus prove versatile comedic actors. This is a great ensemble piece from a very skilled company.
The set and costumes are wild, wacky and delightful whilst the music is beautiful - a lot of the storytelling is sung, which works well. Speaking of costume, I shall never quite erase teh Emperor's new clothes from my mind's eye - roars of laughter from young and old alike!
This is a genuinely memorable show well worth taking in as an alternate to traditional panto - highly recommended.