courtesy of Fuerza Bruta Press
For nearly three years, I walked past the Daryl Roth Theater every day on my way into work and reminded myself that I should see Fuerza Bruta, the show by Diqui James that originated in Argentina and has been performed at the Roth since 2007. Last week, I finally saw this fragmented, mindless spectacle. I’m glad I did, because now I can honestly tell others who are considering seeing Fuerza Bruta (Brute Force, in English) that they can skip it, unless they’re entertained by one or more of the following:
-Being herded around and told where it’s permissible to stand, which to me, does not qualify as audience participation
-A club-like scene with predictable visual stimulation, techno music, and mediocre choreography
-A man endlessly running on a treadmill who gets violently shot in the chest (don’t worry, he lives), without ever learning why or from what he’s running
-Performers who repeatedly smash Styrofoam over each other’s heads
-Jumping up and down while a DJ, looking ridiculous in a George Washington wig, sprays you with a water hose
courtesy of Fuerza Bruta press
The plot-less performance, which mainly took place overhead while the audience stood on the floor for the duration of the show, strung together special effects and a few technical feats set to a constantly thumping beat. The most original section involved a clear pool that descended from overhead until it reached just above the audience’s heads. Four female performers splashed around, slid in diagonals across the pool, and made rippling designs with the water. This went on for far too long, and though the performers looked like they were having a ball, it became irritating to stand and watch without being invited to join the fun. Perhaps this was why Fuerza Bruta was so unsatisfying. The performers were having much more fun than the audience, and sadly, jumping up and down didn’t transport us into their world.
I have immense admiration for the creative team – for their ability to come up with some of the more intriguing concepts – and especially for the hardworking crew members who directed the audience and ensured that the show ran smoothly. But I pity the myriad tourists – and handful of New Yorkers – who are impressed by Fuerza Bruta and view it as well-crafted art. In truth, it’s one-dimensional, uninspiring entertainment.