BATS Theatre, Wellington

16/02/2010 - 19/02/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

Nervous Doll Dancing to dance on NZ shores with a live projected puppetry show

Wellington born cellist Francesca Mountfort is returning home to perform in this year’s New Zealand Fringe Festival for the release her much anticipated sophomore album. 

The Melbourne-based musician, who goes by the name Nervous Doll Dancing, will be presenting her new show Aphelion for the first time in New Zealand at Bats Theatre before embarking on a tour of the South Island. 

Aphelion is an ethereal, miniature puppet show filmed live and projected as an evocative, mesmerising installation that takes the audience on an emotional journey along with a fragile yet powerful musical soundscape created from the cello. 

Melding the old with the new, Aphelion creates a sense of timelessness by incorporating technology in the classical context of music and theatre.

"Mountfort demonstrates a true and tasteful meld of centuries-old bowman ship and well-metered digital aggregations. This is artistry is worth your time and money." The Package, Wellington.

Crossing the boundaries of time, this unique and intriguing performance is not to be missed!

Francesca released her self titled debut album Nervous Doll Dancing in 2004, and has since performed solo in Melbourne festivals including Apollo Bay, Electundra, The Sustainable Living Festival and Melbourne Fringe. "I am excited to be coming home to share this new show with everyone. I hope that people are able to take away something personal for themselves from it."

Francesca’s new album, also called Aphelion, is available in local music stores and will be for sale at the Bats Theatre box office on the nights of the performance.

"Mountfort uses the full range of the cello which results in a sound that sometimes is comforting and lulling, at others emotional and heartfelt and if we turn around the corner words like nervous and claustrophobic are more likely to come to mind. That’s quite an achievement, along with the way she manages to create some of the most beautiful cello playing I’ve heard in some time." from The Broken Face, Sweden.

Bats Theatre, 16th – 19th Feb, 9.30pm
$16 full, $13 concession, $10 Fringe card holders
Bookings at Bats Ph. 8024175
For more info visit www.myspace.com/nervousdolldancing 

Enchanting work moves from soothing to spine-chilling

Review by Hannah Smith 17th Feb 2010

Chiming clocks, trembling trees and unnerving dolls dancing, Aphelion is a ‘musical installation’ combining cello, puppetry and projection into a bewitching and dreamlike theatre experience.

The show commences with a solo piece from cellist Francesca Mountfort, a graduate of Victoria University who now divides her time between her base in Melbourne and tours of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Her beginning is a trifle nervous, but as she warms into the piece we see what an accomplished musician she is.

As the second song begins the lights come up on a small puppet stage on which sits a large clock and a tiny lady in a rocking chair who sways forward and back in time with the eerie cello. This image of the old lady rocking is simultaneously projected onto a large screen hung across the centre of the back wall. The puppet is tiny and difficult to distinguish, but the projection allows for close-ups, so as the live feed kaleidoscopes and drips down the screen we are granted tantalising glimpses of her hands or face.

The interplay between music, puppets and projection is hypnotic. The piece unfolds like the petals of a flower in a series of poetic images that progress from one to another, driven not by narrative but rather by music and emotion. 

There is no program so I cannot credit the work of the two puppeteers whose cast of tiny characters embody so much emotion, despite a few awkward moments. One interesting element of the piece on opening night was how the puppetry occasionally appeared clumsy, but the illusion on the projection screen was always perfectly graceful.  

The lighting design is suitably moody and neatly directs our attention from place to place, cueing us where to look. One little nitpick: the light on the puppet stage was poorly focussed and cast a lot of distracting and unnecessary spill onto the back wall, where the puppeteers’ silhouettes were clearly visible. This will be an easy fix. 

The aphelionis the point in the orbit of a planet or comet where it is most distant from the Sun. This seems fitting; it is at the point when you are farthest from the light that you turn and start coming back again. Regret and memory, cycles of life and its inevitable destruction, twilight and the stretching of shadows are all present – although I cannot put my finger on exactly what they all mean. I don’t have to though; that is the luxury of telling a story with music rather than words.

An enchanting piece of work that moves from soothing to spine-chilling with music from an extremely talented cellist.


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