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ALLAN’S REVIEW: Matchstick @ Ottawa Fringe 2013

Coming in all the way from Saskatoon, Matchstick is billed as an historical not-very-fairytale folk musical about the life of the wife of one of the most-hated men in the world.

Should you see it?


ThreeMatchstick is the story of an unlucky girl from an Undesirable Country. Matchstick, also the girl’s name, soon meets up with an exotic foreigner from the Land of Freedom and Opportunity. They fall in love and despite misgivings, Matchstick decides to marry the foreigner, not realizing he’s not nearly all he seems to be.

Matchstick is performed through whimsical fairy-tale like story-telling and original music (in many creative ways). What’s most interesting about Matchstick is where it takes you as it slowly transitions from the whimsy of the fairy tale stylings into our real world and into another side of a true historical figure that many will recognize. Where it goes and how it gets there is surprising and intriguing and smooth in the transition.

MatchstickMatchstick isn’t without a couple of moments that could probably be smoothed out but both Nathan Howe and Lauren Holfeuer are very engaging and fun to watch throughout (and as multiple characters). One thing that may hold the show back is that the historical figure (the one called one of the most hated men in the world) is a man that a pretty big percentage of younger audiences may not actually have much if any knowledge of. I don’t think that that takes away from what works about this show, it just prevents it from having some of the emotional resonance it desires.

The only other thing working against Matchstick (which Theatre Howl brings all the way from Saskatoon) might be its length. The 70-90 minute shows are sometimes a harder sell because, well, they’re longer.  That said, Matchstick’s a solid three and worth the time. (Perhaps especially for locals who are fans of Mi Casa Theatre and like to see theatre using similar methodology.)

But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think? Do you think everybody will know the historical couple represented in the show, even all these years later? Do you think it matters? Tell me in the comments below.

For more information about Matchstick, including video and links to other press, check out our preview article.

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!