Sunday, February 01, 2009

Fuerza Bruta (The SOB Review)

Fuerza Bruta (The SOB Review) - Daryl Roth Theatre, New York, New York

**1/2 (out of ****)

It's often been said that getting there is half the fun. Someone should tell that to the folks at the Daryl Roth Theatre, which obviously believes Cunard's old trademark line to be nothing more than an outdated canard.

If you're on your way to the claustrophobically funky little basement space that you must wade through before going to see Fuerza Bruta (brute force) in all its glory, beware.

You must first deal with surly staff manning the doors and checking your coats -- and yes, you are required to pay for each item you're checking and you'll want to check since you could easily get wet during the performance. And don't even get me started on the rude line-jumpers, who left any semblance of good manners at home. This, my dear friends, is why I stopped going out to nightclubs. Talk about a brutal force.

After being led up a poorly lit stairway (I'm not quite sure how or if they handle disabled patrons), it was a relief, then, to actually arrive into the rather large and surprisingly tall performance space. Once there, the congregating audience is advised to stand anywhere within the large circle on the floor. This is a general admission event where you must be prepared to move frequently as directed throughout the entire production. Thus, you remain standing -- and moving -- often looking directly above you.

With a hard-driving thumping, pulsating beat that puts the bruta in this fuerza, Fuerza Bruta itself begins as a spectacular piece of performance art run amock quite literally with Freddy Bosche dodging chairs, fellow company members and all kinds of imagined mayhem on his way to -- or, more likely, away from something -- on a giant treadmill. Shots ring out as if from some apocalyptic nightmare concocted by Argentina's relatively recent dictators à la Juan Perón or Jorge Videla. One can't help but wonder what creator and artistic director Diqui James' family must have endured in his native Argentina.

Speaking of endurance, throughout Fuerza Bruta, the athletic and graceful company members are continually running through walls or smashing into the ever-evolving scenery with what can only be described as a cathartic, visceral rage. And it's all very, very sexy.

Taking theatre to new heights quite literally is the swishing pool of water that descends precariously close to your head as its cast members virtually touch you. As truly mesmerizing as this sensuous display is, I couldn't help but wonder whether this very thin piece of plastic separating me from the performers would actually give way. What a buzz kill those thoughts were.

Simply breathtaking and heartstopping (yet not for those who hate loud music and/or strobe lights), Fuerza Bruta is a theatrical sight and sound experience unlike any other. And it all gives way to one giant dance party.

It's just a shame you have to go out the same way you came in.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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