Contrite Elegant Rebel

BATS Theatre, Wellington

03/03/2011 - 06/03/2011

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Production Details

After 5 years and hundreds of gigs Elizabeth and Emile return to the BATS stage with an explosive new work. Contrite Elegant Rebel blurs the boundaries of performance with its sensual, beautiful and enticing atmosphere. 

Blending electronic sounds, guitars, percussion, piano, strings, dance, a theatrical choir and the most delicious vocalist ever heard at BATS. It’s about creativity, vulnerability, love and ambition. 

A collaboration of form not to be missed.

Contrite Elegant Rebel 
Bats Theatre
Season: Thursday 3rd March – Sunday 6th March 2011 
Time: 9.30pm | Sunday 4.30
Price: $16 Full / $14 Concession / $12 Fringe Addict 
Length: 1hr min 
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More elegance than contrition or rebellion

Review by Helen Sims 05th Mar 2011

Contrite Elegant Rebel is a vehicle for Porcelain Toy to present their first full length album. It’s a ‘staged version’ of the album, broadly themed around 2 lovers, accompanied by costumed dancers, musicians and a female choir. That these disparate elements cohere together so well is a tribute to director Rachel Lenart, and presumably also to the vision Porcelain Toy (Emile de la Rey and Elizabeth Judd) bring to their music in performance.

Bats is robed in deep crimson fabric for the show, and four cellists and two viola players take their places on the stage. In run de la Rey and Judd (in an amazing blue evening dress). They stare at each other and then take their places behind keyboards and a piano respectively. As the first song begins three dancers join them on stage, dressed in flesh coloured old-fashioned underwear. Finally the choir comes on to bolster Judd’s vocals. The choir too are also beautifully attired in 40s style dresses in shades of amber and red.

The atmosphere is definitely one of elegance, although there is not much contrition or rebellion. The music was described by my companion as predominantly “electronic folk”, although a range of influences from fairground to country are discernible. Judd sings most of the songs in petulant tones. Although most of the songs seem to be about love, it sounds like a stormy relationship.

Although it seemed to be greatly enjoyed by the full house at Bats, and de la Rey and Judd are clearly highly versatile musicians, the music wasn’t really my ‘thing’, but that’s the danger of a show driven by music I suppose. I didn’t find many of the songs engaging, and felt that the dance only really fully complemented several songs (‘Cupid’s Wink’ and a piece featuring a spinning chair). I also wanted to hear much more of the choir as it featured some beautiful voices, which did really add depth to Judd’s singing.  

It was an enjoyable short show, however, and a creative way to showcase musical work.
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