FANTASTIC
Melanie Suchy - Kulturuniversum (20 May 2010)

20.05.2010, Frankfurt, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm: Grace Ellen Barkey & Needcompany “This door is too small (for a bear)”. There is just one door. Of no use. Nobody goes through it, not even a bear. You can see the little door in the stage’s decorative back wall, a wonderful fretsaw composition of Lot Lemm that only features late in the performance, when the show starts emerging from its chaos, reaches a dark point and the devious pattern of the wall becomes spot-lit. Closer to the front of the stage, two further wall sections hang on rails, like two jaws, even able to snap at one of the actors. Looking intensely at the silhouettes, we begin to recognise animals, birds with open beaks, a butterfly, dogs. In the background we see couples dancing, as if in paradise. The bear as well re-emerges after a long pause, welcomed by the dancers, everybody is in a good mood. This animal is hand-knitted. A gaudy costume enveloping the whole body. Tottering like a small child making its first steps. At the beginning of “This door is too small (for a bear)”, it stumbles into a fairy laundry room. In the light of a flickering neon lamp, the ironing board opens and starts talking, the washing powder carton first flies away from the bear, then comes back to hit him on the head. The washing machines are running - on two legs. Everything starts moving, not just twisting and turning, but seeking connections, direct contact. A smaller hand-knitted animal sticks his long nose into a washing-machine's door, waggling rapturously. A little trunk starts sniffing the back of a washing machine. All the puppets, all the machines, all the people dressed in white – they all have just one thing in mind: Sex. Flirting, hugging, in and out, back and front. The chaos really does have a system, even if absurd. Then the things disappear and something resembling a human being appears. Scantily dressed, in six different corporeal varieties, and not quite sane. One constantly grabs his trousers, another tells a never-ending joke about a man with a loaf of bread on his head, another freezes while swaying, staring like Lolita, another announces a striptease – “I want to go for the real thing” –and does later actually dance naked, holding a magician’s top hat in front of his “real thing”. And they’re often dancing, and why not? Dancing this sense-less, swaying, gyrating, casual Barkey style. Sometimes elegant, sometimes loose-limbed and seemingly disjointed –all to Rombout Willemsens music, harmonious guitar strumming or a deep hard-rock “clanging” resembling a machine. In this quirky physicality with a dose of loss of sanity and the dissolution of boundaries between species, a very up-to-date truth is to be found, cleverly staged and often gripping. Grace Ellen Barkey, the co-founder and choreographer of the Needcompany, first achieved fame in Germany with her “Chunking” and its constant change of scenery, and later in 2007 with her “The Porcelain Project”, where she released beings resembling people into an imaginary world of thousands of fragile objects. “This door” goes even further, is even more captivating.

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