Rubble Women

Arbeit macht performance art in this 70-minute, eight-actress meditation on the Trümmerfrauen—the female citizens of Berlin conscripted to clean up the bombed city in 1945. It's the latest work by the UMO Ensemble, a Vashon-based "physical theater" troupe whose shows reach past text to dance, puppetry, clowning, acrobatics, and aerial performance. Company co-founder Martha Enson's conception also weaves in the Grimm tale of a woman whose hands are sacrificed to the Devil, and allusions to other beleaguered women of legend (Psyche, the Little Match Girl). But this spare and affecting performance is less didactic than it sounds. Through word, music, and movement, it transforms destruction into order, much as the rubble women did: The toting of chunks of brick from one pile to another becomes a round dance, the slamming of a briefcase becomes a gunshot, and Zen-like riddles become suffused with both sorrow and a resilient hope. GAVIN BORCHERT

Thursdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Feb. 26. Continues through March 15, 2009

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