Its return to the stage shows two things: one, that Pina Bausch left behind a considerable volume of work, most of which remains fresh and well worth reviving; but secondly, that the company, which was so very much Bausch’s own creation, still isn’t moving on to new pastures, 10 years after her premature death.
Bluebeard. While Listening to a Tape Recording of Béla Bartók’s ‘Duke Bluebeard’s Castle’ bears all the hallmarks of Pina Bausch’s work. It is set on a stage covered in autumn leaves, where a man compulsively plays and replays a tape recording of Bartók’s short opera. There, the dancers perform a variety of small dramas, seemingly improvised, in reality tightly choreographed.
Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, is a one-act expressionist opera scored for two singers: Duke Bluebeard and his young wife Judith, who’s coming to her new husband’s castle for the first time.
The castle is dark and Judith insists on opening its seven locked doors to let light in. Bluebeard resists, but eventually gives in. Each new door lets in light but simultaneously reveals new horrors, until the seventh and final door provides a grim denouement.
It’s easy to see how this piece would appeal to Pina Bausch, whose work is so rooted in German Expressionism and attests to her compulsive interest in people’s behaviour and the depths of their minds.
Bausch’s Bluebeard does nothing as simple as to reproduce the plot of Bartók’s opera. Rather, it uses the score as a starting point for an often disturbing exploration of the relationships between men and women, taboos and transgressions.
On the surface, the dancers appear left to their own devices, but appearances are illusory in that Pina Bausch rigorously structured all her works. Bluebeard is being faithfully restaged by Helena Pikon and Barbara Kaufmann, the original cast member Jan Minarik and Beatrice Libonati.
At 110 minutes, Bluebeard is much shorter than most of Bausch’s other works, where a demanding three hours plus is an average duration.
Note: Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch performances tend to sell out quickly; early booking is advisable.
|What||Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Bluebeard, Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
12 Feb 20 – 15 Feb 20, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 50 mins no interval
|Price||£15-£75 (+ booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|