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The Little Match Girl review in Variety

In honor of the bicentennial of Hans Christian Andersen's birth, the Tiger Lillies are lighting up "The Little Match Girl" with their special blend of world music, jazz, eerie falsetto and subtle raven-black sardonic wit.

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117929680?categoryid=1265&cs=1


By Larry Lash


In honor of the bicentennial of Hans Christian Andersen's birth, the

Tiger Lillies are lighting up "The Little Match Girl" with their

special blend of world music, jazz, eerie falsetto and subtle

raven-black sardonic wit. While never quite as racy, raucous or

blasphemous as some of the trio's previous stage works ("Shockheaded

Peter" being the most widely seen), the overall tone is of a

mesmerizing, mystical chimera -- equal parts Kurt Weill (and Bertolt

Brecht), Astor Piazzolla, Angelo Badalamenti, Tom Waits, Sgt. Pepper

and flea circus.


Martyn Jacques, the unique, haunting voice of the Lillies, has penned a

dozen songs that form a stream-of-consciousness take on the grim tale

of a little girl who burns up her wares in a failed effort to keep from

freezing to death. Songs progress from "Red and Blue With Cold" and

"Falling Star" to "Ascent to Heaven" and "Dead Body." Even sweetly

poetic lines like "Your long golden hair is worth more than diamonds"

are tinged with sadness, accompanied by a rusty squeezebox and string

trio.


Tiny Laetitia Angot is the Match Girl, moving like a ballerina whose

every barefoot step is hindered by frost; when liberated by death, she

strips off her clothes and climbs into the familiar comfort of an empty

refrigerator. Bob Goody is the crusty old man, some distant relative of

Fagin, Estragon or God, who literally pulls the strings to open -- and

close -- the curtains on the latest debauchment in the Match Girl's

brief life.


Dan Jemmett places the intensely focused stylized action in a series of

five identical proscenium arches, telescoping upstage in forced

perspective. With the Lillies dressed in musty red top hats, the

overall feel is of a surreal music hall panto, complete with

cross-dressing, a glass of Scotch dumped on the crotch and a banana

peel tossed on the ground. As Jacques sings of being "alone with the

man on the moon," Goody's sagging white ass is glimpsed through the

smallest of the proscenia.


The venue is appropriately weird: a former 19th-century stock exchange

building on the far side of the Danube Canal, converted into an ad hoc

performance space with 12 rows of bleachers set in a vast

marble-columned atrium. Kudos to Claus Buehler's sound design, which

keeps the music intimate, warm and natural, with no echo from the cold,

hard surroundings.


A co-production of the Hans Christian Andersen Foundation and four

European theater companies, the show is in negotiation for Stateside

engagements.

 

Sets, Dick Bird; costumes, Sylvie

Martin-Hyszka; lighting, Arnaud Jung; musical arrangements, Christian

Kolonovits; sound, Claus Buehler. Opened, reviewed Feb. 7, 2006.

Running time: 55 MIN.

 

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