Thursday, October 25, 2007



Created/directed by Diqui James. Music by Gaby Kerpel. Daryl Roth Theatre.

Like its predecessor De La Guarda, Fuerzabruta is a sui generis theatrical event that takes takes place around and above the audience, members of which remain standing and moving throughout. Obviously, it's not a show for everyone--including a few critics, who admit that the show's natural audience is likely to skew young and to be accustomed to assaultive noise and spectacle. But even critics who admire it wonder at the meaning, or lack thereof, behind the stunning sensations.

New York Post A-
(Frank Scheck) Fortunately, for the young of both heart and body, the show offers plenty of dazzling theatrical and sensory pleasures as well. And while "Fuerzabruta" - which feels like a rave on acid - isn't exactly profound, it's undeniably spectacular. A-
(Jack Hanley) I would need too much good poetry to be able to describe all the extraordinary things that happen in "Fuerzabruta," especially when we discover ourselves beneath the swirling tides of an enormous body of water descending until it is only inches above our heads. Sliding in the waves of the water are aquatic beings staring at us, trying to understand us, as we try to understand them. But poetry may also be necessary to properly praise the incredible array of talent that makes this show possible. There are 13 agile performers who inhabit this universe, and each one is virtuosic in his or her physicality, each one performs with delirious passion, and each one gracefully complements the other...My only criticism of the show is the sound design by Hernan Nupieri and music composition by Gaby Kerpel. It's a lot of good, thumping dance music with a mix of some ambient sounds, and it certainly helps get our pulses racing. It provides sort of a European dance club feel. But, consequently, it sounds dated in New York City and, more problematic, provides little context to the visuals. Yes, there's an explosion here and there, but the show deserves a much more sophisticated soundscape.

New Jersey Star-Ledger A-
(Michael Sommers) Successive sequences present rooms trashed to smithereens by revelers, others where ceilings crash down on people and further instances of urban destruction. (Everything is cleverly constructed of Styrofoam and paper so nobody get hurts.) Then as the throbbing techno music moderates into soothing sounds, all this havoc dissolves into unexpected magnificence. A translucent 50-foot-long pool magically materializes high overhead and slowly, inexorably descends to fingertip level. Colored by changing tints of lighting, a rippling puddle of water ceaselessly sloshes across the pool's teetering see-through bottom in a multiplicity of iridescent patterns as four women in their scanties rapturously slip and slide directly over viewers' heads. The effect is sensual, unearthly, nearly hallucinatory.

New York Daily News A-
(Joe Dziemianowicz) The most breathtaking scenes play out in a huge, rectangular, clear-bottomed pool that hovers high above the floor. As four nymphs splish, splash and smack their hands in the thin layer of water, the audience below has a pool-floor view. In a moment of inspired whimsy, one woman toys with a puddle as if it were an obedient puppy, following her wherever she paddles. When the pool came down, the audience reached up to touch the underside, as if to connect with the magic. And they did. At $70 for 60 minutes of entertainment, "Fuerzabruta" is pricey. But not many shows can boast that they deliver something you've never seen before. This one does.

CurtainUp B+
(Les Gutman) To those of us who saw "De La Guarda" almost a decade ago, "Fuerzabruta" may not seem quite as essential. (Then, I described it as a "must-see".) But it may be just the infusion of brutal fun you need to clear your head for more sedentary visits to the theater.

Variety B+
(Steven Suskin) "Fuerzabruta" -- which reaches New York after engagements in Buenos Aires, Lisbon, London and elsewhere -- is surely not for everyone. Audience members are kept mobile, herded around to avoid low-flying scenery and bodies; packages need to be checked, as should coats (it gets warm on the floor). The show is officially not recommended for those under 8, who may not be the only ones frightened by the noise, darkness and strobe lights. One thing is certain: You will be pelted with paper and pieces of foam and occasionally sprinkled with water. If you wish to get really wet, head toward the center of the space following the curtain call. Regardless of how viscerally you choose to participate, James and his associates put on quite a show. "De La Guarda" ran six years at the Daryl Roth, on Union Square, on the strength of twentysomethings; one expects they will again provide the core audience. At 60 action-packed minutes, "Fuerzabruta," with its magical effects, makes for an eye-popping adventure.

Talkin' Broadway B+
(Matthew Murray) When the show is willing to tamper down its rave-pit inclinations for a few minutes, you're even treated to a moment or two of serene beauty: A scene in which a quartet of svelte ladies cavorts in a giant plastic pool mere inches from your head is a quiet respite from the rampant seriousness of the rest of the evening's explosive Armageddon. Even though you're separated from the swimmers by but a few inches of industrial-grade plastic, it's difficult not to feel light years away. "Fuerzabruta" makes extensive use of the tremendous talents of its 13-person company, but never engages their humanity -- or, by extension, yours.

Village Voice B
(James Hannaham) For that matter, what does it mean when a screaming company member beans a critic with a Styrofoam brick? Like someone in a country that switches presidents four times in one month, I had to participate in the madness just to stay calm. So I hit him right back. But before that moment, "Fuerzabruta" terrified me, discotheque atmosphere notwithstanding.

TheaterMania B-
(Brian Scott Lipton) But you can go to Stereo or Cain to shake your booty; you come to the Daryl Roth to see a fearless group of performers seem to take their lives in their hands by performing stunts like falling off a 15-foot-long treadmill, climbing around impossibly high mylar curtains, or balancing themselves on a huge, shaky contraption that looks like it's made out of aluminum foil… One wishes the bag of tricks in "Fuerzabruta" was a little more full -- more than one sequence gets repeated -- and that the segues between acts were a little more seamless. But there are far worse ways to spend an hour in New York City.

New York Times C+
(Charles Isherwood) For true enjoyment, a powerful affection for thumping techno music would probably help. So would a delight in being befogged by acrid smoke, blasted by bright lights and shuttled around in packs like cattle. Also getting wet in public. The key demographic for “Fuerzabruta” is probably clubgoing, overstimulated college kids not worried about soiling their togs from H&M. Not to mention all those on the dark side of 30 who wish they were still clubgoing, overstimulated college kids.

Time Out New York C
(David Cote) Diqui James’s vision includes a lot of violence and angry stomp--dancing, people covered in dust, and thousands of scraps of tissue paper fluttering through the air, conjuring a sense of catastrophe and loss. But neither the director nor his hardworking crew seems to care about what it actually, ya know, means.

New York Post A- 12; A- 12; New Jersey Star-Ledger A- 12; New York Daily News A- 12; CurtainUp B+ 11; Variety B+ 11; Talkin' Broadway B+ 11; Village Voice B 10; TheaterMania B- 9; New York Times C+ 8; TONY C 7; TOTAL: 115/11 = 10.45 (B)

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