Bish Bash Bausch
Based on a brief stay by the dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal in Hong Kong Pina Bausch’s Der Fensterputzer (The Window Washer) is quite something to behold. There’s no narrative, or even much dancing truth be told, just an inexhaustible collage of imagery, visual gags, stand-up comedy and slapstick. The lady once dubbed the pornographer of pain came over all Keystone Cops for this one. And the results are as hilarious as they are surreal as they are joyous.
There’s a germ-wary flasher, a man who dons lipstick so he can paint a queue of women’s fingernails with his mouth, a hard-as-nails ticket inspector with a penchant for doing rude things with an ice-cream and there’s the most beautiful airport scanner in the world. There’s a sharing of family photographs, bicycles drifting across the stage, women giggling and playing in pillow-cases. None of this will make any sense on paper, and there are hundreds more images floating around the stage, but watching it all takes you to a distant happy land of feeling all warm inside.
It’s also beautiful to look at. The stage is dominated by designer Peter Pabst’s enormous pile of red silk flowers that the dancers play on and play with; clambering over it, burying themselves in it and even skiing down it. There’s a breathtaking few moments when the flowers are hurled into the air to create a gorgeous firework display.
There are some of Bausch’s signature moments of pain and hopelessness; a man suspended upside down futilely (but incredibly) shifting water from one bucket to another or a woman who appears on stage from time to time to scream and fall comatose onto her back but these are the exceptions. The overall feeling is that the company had a whale of a time in Hong Kong.
It is a little too long and the lethargic scene of dancers climbing up the mountain/sand dune of flowers is an anti-climatic finale but these are moot points. Der Fensterputzer is something amazing, an unforgettable experience.
The UK premiere of Der Fensterputzer is at Sadler’s Wells on June 18 2012, part of the World Cities series.