Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Wed Mar 9.
Tanztheatre Wuppertal Artistic Director Lutz Forster has continued the arresting work of the late Pina Bausch in bringing her creation, Nelken to Adelaide audiences. Bausch is known for her highly experimental integration of dance, theatre and observance of the human condition and in Nelken we experience a relentless series of seemingly random moments.
These moments work to form a loose narrative that present life’s humiliations in a series of often strange yet beautifully theatrical moments. Imagery and metaphor abound -the entire Festival Theatre stage is carpeted in pink carnations – a visual spectacular that arrests the eyes as we watch elegantly dressed dancers pick their way carefully amongst the blooms. By the end of the show, the trampled carpet is now devastated yet still beautiful – perhaps the essence of life itself.
Men in evening gowns bunny hop through the flowers until they are humiliated by grim security forces demanding passports, women are chased and menaced and children are violently berated by parents in an onslaught of shaming that continues throughout the evening. The action onstage is constantly reinventing itself as dancers move on and off, talking to each other and to the audience, crying, screaming, sometimes victim, sometime bully.
Childhood games become a metaphor for oppression and those in power – either by gender or other vested authority – dominate and demean. We the audience also have a part to play as one dancer insists we command him to dance, and keeps insisting until he can dance no more. The characterisation was comically intense and most reacted with laughter however the underlying message could not be missed.
The brilliance of this piece is that there is much joy and humour threaded through the darker moments, our senses able to delight in the sheer fun and energy these dancers bring to their often frenzied roles.
Rosie van Heerde
Image courtesy of Oliver Look
Nelken (Carnations) continues at Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 8pm until Sat 12 Mar.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.