Review: The 'Fuerzabruta' experience


Special to Newsday

1:13 PM EDT, October 28, 2007

These are not your everyday announcements. Instead of the usual "turn off your cell phones" and "unwrap your candies," the voice on the loudspeaker before "Fuerzabruta" advises: "Allow yourself to move around the space," and, "When you touch the set pieces, please do it gently."

What the creators of this ravishing body-slam of a show -- a follow-up to 1998's "DeLa Guarda" -- don't say is that not only will we be touching pieces of the set, but pieces of the set are likely to be touching us.

And while some of the adrenaline rush of "De La Guarda" arises from the nerve-racking spectacle of actors suspended over our heads, "Fuerzabruta" (Spanish for "brute force") ruthlessly amps up the threat level on the ground.

So in addition to set pieces and performers and thrashing overhead, there are moving parts underfoot that require some serious scurrying. A churning treadmill and a metal platform roll through the middle of the Daryl Roth Theatre's cavernous space, giving the standing-only crowd no choice but to peel off to the sidelines or be crushed.

Creator-director Diqui James' "Fuerzabruta" conjures bracing, suggestive visual poetry: a man in a suit walking furiously in place, literally getting nowhere fast; a shamrock cluster of bodies in a womb-like circle of water.

But "Fuerzabruta" doesn't simply let us take in these images as passive spectators, but forces us to experience them with all our senses.

The show's four water nymphs don't merely writhe high above, creating nice stage pictures for us to admire. No: The clear-bottomed pool they wallow in must descend to within our reach.

And a troupe of actors doesn't simply tear apart a prefab set of confetti and cardboard. The cast, a seamless blend of Argentine originals and New York ringers, then circulates through the crowd and practically press-gangs us into dancing along to the techno beats supplied by a DJ in a powdered wig.

If that sounds like your cup of speed, then run, don't walk to see "Fuerzabruta," then get ready to run some more.

FUERZABRUTA. Created and directed by Diqui James. Music by Gaby Kerpel. Through Feb. 18 at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 20 Union Sq. E., at 15th Street, Manhattan. For tickets, call 212-239-6200; Seen Sunday.