Matchstick lives in an Undesirable Country; she falls in love with a foreigner who offers a new life; but she must start from the beginning with a stranger. An historical not-very-fairytale folk musical based on the life of the wife of one of the most hated men in the world.
WINNER - Best in Fest: Outstanding Original Work (Ottawa Fringe 2013)
2013 Summer Tour:
Saskatoon, SK (June 7th and 8th)
Ottawa, ON (June 20-30)
Regina, SK (July 10-14)
Winnipeg, MB (July 17-28)
Edmonton, AB (August 15-25)
Wells, BC (Sunset Theatre - August 29-31)
Vancouver, BC ( September 5-15)
WRITTEN BY: Nathan Howe
DIRECTED BY: Kristen Holfeuer
MATCHSTICK: Lauren Holfeuer
ALIK: Nathan Howe
DRAWINGS: Barrett Russell and Ania Slusarczyk
- Theatre Howl would like to thank Persephone Theatre for their incredible support throughout this process!
"By the time they’d reached the end of their 75-minute show, I was convinced Theatre Howl have one of the best shows at the festival on their hands." - Joff Schmidt, CBC Manitoba
"Folksy, pop-culturey, upbeat and a little weird, you might be back in line for this one before Fringe is over." - Rebecca Medel, VUE Weekly Edmonton
"Matchstick is subtle but powerful theatre that takes you to places of memory and hurt." - Edmonton Sun
"There is nothing predictable about this odd and highly original folk musical, or the rustic, hand-made way it sets its strange story forth onstage... There's nothing like it at the Fringe" - Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal
"The rootsy folk songs are so good you might be buying the CD after the show." - Kevin Prokosh, Winnipeg Free Press
"I can’t say enough about Matchstick. It is an absolute must-see." - Robyn Lester, The Charlebois Post
WINNER - Best in Fest: Outstanding Original Work (Ottawa Fringe 2013)
Nominated - Cultchivating The Fringe Award (Vancouver Fringe 2013)
(scroll down for full reviews)
NATHAN HOWE is a Saskatoon based theatre artist and guitar player for Molly Summers & The Callbacks. He is a co-founder of Bzzt! Trap Door Theatre and the Fringe company Caca Pasa Productions. Recent Acting Credits: Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Toto in The Wizard of Oz (Globe Theatre); Tree Boy, The Canada Show (Persephone Youth Tour); The Frenzy of Queen Maeve, Vimy, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (Live Five); Two Corpses Go Dancing, It’s Been Taken, Robots Eating Humans (Fringe Festivals); Buffalos (Tant per Tant). Recent Writing Credits: It's Been Taken (with Morgan Murray), Robots Eating Humans, The Centre of the Universe. Nathan is a graduate of the Globe Theatre Conservatory Actor Training program (2012) and has his BFA in Acting from The University of Saskatchewan (2011). Find him on twitter @NathanHowe89 and his youtube channel BzztTrapDoor.
LAUREN HOLFEUER recent acting credits include Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (Globe Theatre); The Edible Woman (Live Five/Thigh High Theatre); Vimy (Live Five/Bzzt! Trap Door Theatre); Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (Live Five/Thigh High Theatre & Strikes Twice Productions); Filling Holes (Live Five/Broadway Mime); Still Life (Thigh High Theatre); Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (Strikes Twice Productions/Saskatoon Fringe); Peer Gynt, Assassins, Reckless, The Winter’s Tale, Attempts on Her Life (Greystone Theatre). Lauren is a graduate of the Globe Theatre Conservatory Actor Training program (2012) and the University of Saskatchewan's BFA Drama program (2010). She is also a co-creator of Saskatoon's Thigh High Theatre. For more information on Lauren look to http://laurenholfeuer.com
KRISTEN HOLFEUER is the founder of Kamikaze Archive Theatre which creates and produces inventive, movement-based, performative theatre.She is an original member of SKIT SKIT: live & filmed sketch comedy ensemble and a graduate of the One Yellow Rabbit Summer Intensive, Globe Theatre Conservatory Actor Training Program, and the University of Saskatchewan’s Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program. http://www.kristenholfeuer.com/
- VUE Weekly: Matchstick Review
Fun! Funny! Soviet Russia? This two-person musical is a treasure. The singing, dancing, set design and storyline are definitely not your typical fairytale of girl meets boy and falls in love. Just who is prince charming really? Hint: you'll be shocked. Folksy, pop-culturey, upbeat and a little weird, you might be back in line for this one before Fringe is over.
—Rebecca Medel http://www.edmontonfringe.ca/play/matchstick/
- Fringe: Matchstick (Edmonton Sun)
Matchstick is musical/ drama and the work of the Saskatoon husband and wife team of Lauren Holfeuer and Nathan Howe.
It starts off in what seems to be one thing and becomes something else but despite the wrenching change of tone, succeeds in being dramatically cohesive.
The two are impressive musicians exhibiting a mastery of a large number of instruments and switching characters (and sexes) seamlessly -- sometimes in the middle of a speech. Using multi-track techniques, Howe's guitar often takes on the power of a large orchestra. Holfeuer has a lovely, pure voice and makes for a feisty heroine.
The two are modern versions of classic troubadours, with an easy accessible acting style, spinning their 75 minute bittersweet tale in the alternative folk music style of our times.
Matchstick is quite a sophisticated production (for the Fringe) using simple but effective projections, illustrations, props and silhouettes -- which gives the duo the ability to introduce a whole range of back-up characters. There are even a couple of well-choreographed dance routines.
The play begins with a stark, Grimm Brothers style fairy tale about Matchstick (Holfeuer), a child with no mother and a father who beats her. She becomes an orphan that nobody wants, living in an awful place full of menace and paranoia. She sings, "I live in an unnecessary life in an unnecessary country."
She meets Alix (Howe) a young man who speaks in the musical cadences of another land and promises to take her to "the country of freedom and opportunity." They marry and embark on the great adventure across the ocean. But then a strange thing happens.
We slowly become aware that the two are part of a wider story that is no fairy-tale. You can tell when the audience puts the pieces together and realizes what story is really being told here. An electric stillness descends as the events irrevocably play out.
Matchstick is subtle but powerful theatre that takes you to places of memory and hurt.
MATCHSTICK: Review (Edmonton Journal)
There is nothing predictable about this odd and highly original folk musical, or the rustic, hand-made way it sets its strange story forth onstage.
Theatre Howl, the Saskatoon company that created it, calls it “a not-very-fairytale musical.” Against a rustic backdrop of pencil drawings and shadow play, the cast of two (Nathan Howe and Lauren Holfeuer) grab a selection of folksy instruments —guitar, snare drum, kazoo, ukulele — for apparently artless songs with oddball metre, whistling, clapping, and rhyme.
Thus equipped they tell the story of a little girl who lived in An Undesirable Country, and becomes an orphan when her father locks the door on her. Discarding a series of suitors, she falls in love with a stranger from The Land of Freedom And Opportunity. And gradually, in the isolation of her new life in a land where she doesn’t speak the language, another kind of story, a darker one with certain historical resonances, begins to emerge. You suddenly get the shivery feeling that the rustic quality of the storytelling, in itself, has grown sinister. Even the pencil sketches are ominous. And you remember the opening song from the woman who’s spending new year’s eve in the bathtub to shed the badness of her new life.
I know I’m being mysterious, but it’s for your own good. The arc of this piece is so audaciously weird that you wonder how it’s possible for your mind to wrap itself around its oddities. But it does. And when it does , you’ll realize that what has started small and simple, a sad little folk tale with a middle bit reserved for happy love, has gotten improbably enormous. And that’s the story.
There’s nothing like it at the Fringe.
Posted by Joff Schmidt | Monday June 17, 2013
(Photo courtesy Theatre Howl)
Company: Theatre Howl, Saskatoon, SK
Genre: Musical Theatre
Venue: 13 - Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (UofW)
Sometimes when I'm at a show that has an intermission, I'm asked what I think of the show. "Ask me at the end" is always my response.
Shows like Matchstick
are the reason.
Although it doesn't have an intermission, if you'd asked me halfway through this two-person musical what I thought of it, I'd say it was decently performed, but not likely to stick with me.
By the time they'd reached the end of their 75-minute show, I was convinced Theatre Howl have one of the best shows at the festival on their hands.
The piece is a musical "not-very-fairytale" about a girl named Matchstick (Lauren Holfeuer), who grows up orphaned and unloved in an "undesirable country" (read: the Soviet Union). But a man (writer Nathan Howe) arrives from "the land of opportunity and freedom" and charms her sufficiently to take her back to his homeland. But her Prince Charming soon turns out to be anything but.
Holfeuer turns in an outstanding performance in the title role. And the folk music soundtrack performed live by the duo is ear-pleasing and catchy - both have wonderful voices. The lyrics, though, are as pitch black as the story that unfolds here. And the greatest challenge with Matchstick
is sticking with it through its bleakness.
But oh, that patience is rewarded with an ending that is surprising (how surprising will depend on the depth of your knowledge of American history, but I'll leave it at that), profoundly moving, and resonant.
Matchstick burns brightly.
What is most admirable about Matchstick is that Howe and Holfeuer are fearless in veering to the theatrical fringe and isn’t that the reason we have a fringe festival in the first place.Matchstick is an odd folk musical that lulls its audience with a light fairy tale about a young foreign woman that suddenly near its conclusion runs into one of the most infamous moments in American history. No one will see this coming (no spoiler here) and the abrupt change in tone is almost too wrenching, as if another show, a more serious one, has been tacked on.
Written by Saskatoon’s Nathan Howe, who performs with Lauren Holfeuer, the ambitious 75-minute musical is loaded with impressive songs and presentational flourishes that exceed expectations of a fringe show. The sets are created by overhead projections of drawings while a clothesline is hung with face photos that the performer can stand behind to portray other characters. The rootsy folk songs are so good you might be buying the CD after the show.
— Kevin Prokosh, http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/fringe/reviews/Matchstick-214431921.html?device=mobile
- Fringe-Coma 2013 - QUEEN MAEVE and MATCHSTICK, The Visitorium, Kevin Reid - "The music is integrated perfectly into the show, with both Howe and Holfeuer nailing every moment both heartwrenching and hilarious. You WILL be singing some of these songs on your way out of the theatre. Innovative and exciting direction by Kristen Holfeuer takes a great show and makes it something truly special that I highly recommend. " http://thevisitorium.com/2013/06/28/fringe-coma-2013-queen-maeve-and-matchstick/
- MATCHSTICK, Apartment 613, Trish Chang, Ottawa - "Nathan Howe and Lauren Holfeuer carry Matchstick like nobody’s business, both in their primary roles, as well as in playing a dozen other characters seamlessly. Holfeuer is masterful at depictingMatchstick’s vulnerability combined with a determination to find a happy ending. She is well matched with Howe, who is clearly a great comedic actor, and inhabits each of his characters with ease." - "The staging is effortless, in a way that you know only happens with some serious rehearsal and thoughtful direction." - "While this reviewer loves musicals, I’m sure that the non-musical lovers will enjoy this show. If you find yourself regularly at the Blacksheep, eagerly awaiting the Folk Festival or listening to CBC Radio Three, you’ll get along just fine with this musical. The masterful use of a minimal set, charming performances by the two actors, and some really great music make this show worth catching." - http://apt613.ca/matchstick/
- PLANK Magazine Review:
- Preview Article:
MATCHSTICK LIGHTS THE WAY FOR FRINGE FEST, Saskatoon - New show brings mystery and music to the road - "Featuring original music, an array of instruments and brave performances by Howe and the lovely Lauren Holfeuer" - The Rooster, Paige Goodman http://http://therooster.ca/culture/matchstick-lights-way-fringe-fest