Brighton Fringe 2007
The Little Girl who was too fond of matches
Marica Carr and Daryl Branch
Festival: Brighton Fringe
The Little Girl who was too fond of matches is an extended monologue based on the novel by Canadian writer Gaẻtan Soucy. Alice, the little girl of the title, is played brilliantly played by Marcia Car. There is an additional performer, the Brother played by Daryl Branch, who lives for most of the performance under a kitchen table and doesn’t have much to do except mime to the great ocean of dialogue spoken by Alice, and to mimic his own actions on a screen above the stage.
The story is a simple tale about two grownup children; a Brother and Sister brought up in innocent isolation by a father who has just died that morning. The sister, Alice, who believes she is a boy and has learned her word-hoard from massive dictionaries, the works of Spinoza and the memoirs of the Duc de Simon, sets off to the local town to buy a coffin. In town she learns that her father was a demented and miserly mine owner and a key figure in the local economy.
Alice returns pursued by a mine inspector on a motor bike who whisks Alice away. The Brother shoots the Mine Inspector dead. They topple from the bike. Alice begins labour pains, burns down her father’s library and great cache of ingots, and the Brother surrenders meekly to an irate mob.
Marcia Car was magnificent. How she managed to remember all those words was a heroic miracle. That was the problem with the whole concept; too many words and too much clever-clever for the sake of it. I felt a great sympathy for Car. She put all her energy into the role and played it with passion, but by about quarter of an hour in to the play my head began to ache and began to feel the great wilt of boredom.
The woman next to me actually nodded off and so did the man next to her. When I say nodded off I I’m speaking metaphorically. Two people in the front row actually fell asleep. This must have been disconcerting for the players especially when they knew in their heart of hearts that they were doing a great job. The audience knew they were doing a good job but the problem was not with the players it was with the words.
The antics on the screen tended merely to duplicate Alice’s voluble descriptive narrative. It only came into its own during the visit to the town but it was still an unnecessary clutter.
Some humble healing advice
The problem was not with the actors but the script, which needs savage scissors to trim it down. It was all good stuff but there was just too much of it. It seemed to have been a good short story idea that somehow got expanded into a novel with the addition of too many words and clever conceptual references. I know this was the point of Alice’s world but they didn’t have to download the entire thesaurus into my head in a single hour.
I really wanted to like The Little Girl who was too fond of matches and genuinely wish it well but I was so glad when the curtain came down on the evening.
There’s too much of and it needs a drastic edit. Then I think it could be a classic.
A five star performance, not a five star script.