In December 2010 PUKKA performed The Little Matchgirl, with the kind permission of Keith Strachan, Leslie Stewart and Jeremy Paul.
The show ran over six nights and seven perfomances, from 6th – 11th December 2010. The venue was the Porthceri Arts Centre, previously Porthkerry Road Methodist Church, and a spectacular custom-built set made for a really atmospheric performace.
Little Matchgirl proved a big hit with audiences through its week-long run, proving once again that when it comes to shows that hit home, Pukka really packs a punch.
This was never going to be a warm and fuzzy Christmas show and for those unfamiliar with the story, the ending was something of a surprise. Pukka have always embraced shows that have a strong emotional punch and want you to have a truly memorable theatrical experience; they also want to make you think, and judging by some of the comments received after the show, they certainly achieved that.
From the moment the audience stepped through the church gates they were immersed in a Victorian world. Street urchins scurried about causing mischief and picking fights amongst themselves while their elders tried to keep them in line; there were pie sellers and drunkards; tarts and ‘toffs’, all rubbing shoulders. Then once inside the doors the audience had a sneak peek at what was to come as they were shown through the set to their seats and offered warm fruit punch to stave off the cold.
No formal start to this show either, all the characters were going about their business until the ‘petite’ urchins carolled “Mistletoe and Wine” and then we were off… ther fabulous cast giving the audience a glimpse into the lives of the rich, wretched and poor alike.
We saw humour and poignancy in the tentative friendship between the matchgirl and Arthur (a fine first PUKKA performance by Jared Cornish); there was humour supplied by the Cook and Butler (Carmen Brookes & Dean Matthews) with their never-ending budding romance; and foot-stomping merriment from the rabble-rousing urchins.
In an outstanding field of actors, special praise must be given to Hannah Gaskin and Chloe Lipscombe in particular, both of whom showed remarkable maturity in their ability to handle this heartbreaking and ultimately tragic role. Their scenes with Jeb and Josie (Duncan Creasey and Fiona Cowling) were particularly unsettling as the little matchgirl dreams of a loving family and home but is rebuffed by a father who cares more about money than his own kin, and a ‘tart with a heart’ who sees her own descent into the world of prostitution mirrored in the matchgirl’s future.
This show was always going to be an emotional journey. Poverty, prostitution, child abuse and death were all integral to this story and when the lights did finally came up we realised we should have supplied tissues as well… there was hardly a dry eye in the house!
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The Little Matchgirl
Rich Man / Pie seller
Grandmother / Cook
Winifred / Elsie
Janey (a Tart)
Landlord / Policeman
Child Carol Singer
Emma Jenkins & Sophie Williams
Iolo, Caitlyn, Connor, Seren, Freya, Mia,
Bella, Malachi, Grace, Rebecca, Calum Jay
Megan, Gabby, Elizabeth, Caitlyn, Mali, Amy,
Elysia, Maisy, Olivia, Paige, Ellie, Hannah, Lowri,
Llio, Annabel, Katie, Marissa, Maisie, Rhianna,
Hannahlise, Celyn, Livvy, Eliza, Emily
Rachel C, Hannah G , Holly, Molly, Amelia,
Gabby, Rachael H, Katy, Harriet, Chloe, Hannah M,
Abi, Claudia, Caitlyn, Sophie, Molly Mc,
Amber, Bethan, Emma, Mari, Sam, Courtney
Musical Director / Keyboard 1
Sarah Millward, Sue Williams, Kath Williams, Eve Hart
and a cast of many!
Right hand Men:
Mike Hazelton, Richard Gaskin, Paul McCabe,
Duncan Creasey, Ian Lipscombe, James Gaskin
Right hand Women:
Angela Gaskin, Claire Lipscombe, Jo McCabe,
Theresa Colligan, Meriwen Kingsley, Sarah Knowles.
Sue Williams and Kath Williams
Photography and design
Printing and promotion
PUKKA Theatre School Teachers:
Nicola Boyd-Anderson, Carmen Brookes,
Hayley Jefferies, Calum Small
Theatre School Assistants:
Rachael Shankland & Lou Ball
Sound & Lighting
Tim Phipps & Paul Lewzey