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Fuerzabruta

Theatre Review by Matthew Murray

Fuerzabruta
Ladies and gentlemen, you can already stop worrying about the upcoming presidential election. You don't even need to bother getting your affairs in order. Just batten down the hatches, for the end of the world has arrived. But who would have expected to find it at the Daryl Roth Theatre? Yes, located inside the confines of this Off-Broadway house on the east edge of Union Square is the earth-swallowing cataclysm known as Fuerzabruta, which goes to extravagant lengths to prove the End of Days can be a smashing good time.

Place a little extra emphasis on the smash. The title of Fuerzabruta, which originated in Argentina and is from the same team that presented the long-running, airborne hit De La Guarda at the same theater several years ago, means "brute force" in Spanish, and that's exactly what you get into this alternately exhilarating and exhausting 70-minute performance. Men smashing through walls, women rappelling down glaciers, and end-of-the-millennium partiers stomping hard enough to bring down the ceiling above their heads are only the beginning.

They're also more or less the end. While there's an undeniable fascination in watching the exacting choreography of the treadmills, bandstands, and high-flying swimming pools that provide Fuerzabruta with the most exciting of its choreography, there's little sense that any of this spectacle serves a greater purpose. The sole thread linking the show's many disparate segments, the resilience of the human spirit in the face of outright catastrophe, is so light that it's all but blown away by the wind machines that blast several thousand pieces of tissue-paper confetti through the audience at key points.

Ultimately, though, that matters little. The percussive pacing of Diqui James's production and the chest-pounding bass of Gaby Kerpel's original music are persuasive enough to sweep you along on their own terms. They even have some floor-level help from audience wranglers, who herd you about the stage ensuring you won't be flattened by a rolling scaffold or smothered by a curtain flapping down from the flies.)

Fuerzabruta
When the show is willing to tamper down its rave-pit inclinations for a few minutes, you're even treated to a moment or two of serene beauty: A scene in which a quartet of svelte ladies cavorts in a giant plastic pool mere inches from your head is a quiet respite from the rampant seriousness of the rest of the evening's explosive Armageddon. Even though you're separated from the swimmers by but a few inches of industrial-grade plastic, it's difficult not to feel light years away. Fuerzabruta makes extensive use of the tremendous talents of its 13-person company, but never engages their humanity - or, by extension, yours.

At least you're joined by one elemental force: water. Not long after they finish splashing in it, you'll be drenched by an indoor rainstorm thematically intended, one suspects, to wash away the past so you can begin life (and the night) anew. After all the exercise you'll get avoiding oncoming scenery and being pelted by flying plaster, you'll appreciate the shower. It is, after all, a cool note to conclude a show that spends most of its time being hot, and if this show does nothing else, it raises your temperature. If you want entertainment, too, Fuerzabruta also delivers a nice, controlled blast.


Fuerzabruta
Through February 17
Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street at 20 Union Square East, between 15th and 16th Streets
Running Time: 65 minutes, with no intermission
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: Telecharge