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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Daryl Roth Theatre

By Bill Stevenson

  PH: Sara Krulwich

If your idea of a good time is to be jostled, pushed, and stepped on in a crowd made up largely of foreigners and NYU students, have I got the show for you. No, I'm not talking about the subway at rush hour. I'm referring to Fuerzabruta, the fast-paced, at times dazzling, but often agoraphobia-inducing new production from the creators of the long-running hit De La Guarda.

The reason for all the pushing and shoving is the fact that crew members move large portable stages, curtains, and other obstacles that can result in audience members getting smooshed. For instance, the opening sequence has a man in a suit running on a treadmill that is moved from one end of the theater to the other. The audience, which stands throughout the 70-minute show, must get out of the treadmill's way-or risk being crushed. Perhaps after living in New York for more than 20 years I should be accustomed to being shoved and bumped into, but it's not what I expect to experience at the theater.

Despite the jostling, Fuerzabruta (which means brute force) does offer dynamic movement, kinetic visuals, percussive music, and an athletic cast that dances frenziedly, flies from the rafters, jumps through cardboard boxes, and dives into a 45-foot pool of water suspended above the audience. The pool sequence is a technical marvel and without a doubt the highlight of the show. The bottom of the pool is made of surprisingly strong Mylar, and several female cast members slide around and hurtle themselves onto the surface, which can be touched by audience members below. (As the giant pool was being lowered over the audience, I began to wonder what the insurance premiums are.) It's certainly unlike anything I've seen in a theater-even at Cirque du Soleil spectacles like O in Las Vegas.

There are also striking aerial sequences, including two women suspended from the ceiling chasing each other around a silver curtain and a man and woman flying around on opposite sides of a giant sail. If there's a theme in the wordless show, it seems to involve the chaos of modern life and men and women's struggle to connect. Or maybe it's just about cutting loose, flying, and diving into water with a crowd of onlookers below you.

For audience members who want to cut loose, dancing is encouraged at the end of the show. And there's a last-minute chance to get quite wet if one wants to leave the theater soaked. Unfortunately, it probably isn't possible to avoid getting pushed around during the action-packed evening. For those of us who don't love crowds, Fuerzabruta would be more fun with about a third fewer people in the audience. But I have a feeling that students and non-English speakers will keep the Daryl Roth Theatre packed until the limited run ends in February.


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