Volume 78 - Number 49 / May 13 - 19 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

A special villager supplement

Audience members get a view from beneath “the pool” at “Fuerza Bruta.”

Action at Daryl Roth Theatre is like money in bank

By Rita Wu

“Fuerza Bruta” is the follow-up to the widely successful Off Broadway show “De La Guarda,” which ran for six years. Just like its predecessor, “Fuerza Bruta” — which means “brute force” in Spanish — is built on action, space and sensory pleasures. It’s part Euro techno dance club and part acrobatic theater, but also a pure visual extravaganza you can’t deny.

Upon entering the Daryl Roth Theatre — a handsome, classical-styled former bank building on Union Square West — one is ushered into the main room along with the rest of the audience. The audience will remain standing for the whole show. 

Techno music pumps through the sound system and one feels the anticipation as people look up and around waiting for the start of the show. No one knows where the show will begin or really what to expect.

Stagehands push a treadmill to the middle of the floor. A man in a suit and tie starts a leisurely walk on the machine. The pace builds as it goes from jog to sprint. As he runs through walls, passes “pedestrians” and withstands two “bullet shots,” the show has begun.

The plotless production is viscerally linked together. It’s all sensation here. Directed by stagehands the crowd is kept mobile, shuffling around to accommodate the performance. Plastic curtains drop from the ceiling and wrap the walls of the small theater. Two women decked out in dresses and harnesses start a dizzying horizontal chase along the walls, which are manipulated to rise and fall like waves. They reach and run and tumble. Spectators, necks craned upward, follow their pursuit.

Hands go up as a transparent pool is lowered just above the heads of the audience, surely the highlight of the show. The pool is partially filled and lit from above, casting dreamy shadows on the theatergoers. Women clad in barely anything at all create small whirlpools, splashes and jolts as they dive, slam and hurl their bodies across the pool’s surface. They laugh and tease as they slip and slide. It’s hard for audience members not to wince the first time one of the women throws herself down over their heads. But once assured that nothing is going to break or rip, one joins in with their laughter.

Besides the sight of the performers’ ridiculously fit bodies, “Fuerza Bruta”-goers should be prepared for wind, bits of cardboard, water, confetti and loud techno beats to shower down upon them. This show is for the young at heart and people who like fun.

The Daryl Roth Theatre box office is located at 101 E. 15th St. just off Union Square West. Tickets are $75, but two hours before showtime, a limited number of tickets go on sale at the box office for $25. Tickets can also be purchased through Telecharge. For more information check the “Fuerza Bruta” site, http://www.fuerzabrutanyc.com/index.html.

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