Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Fuerza Bruta premiered in Buenos Aires in 2005, and has since been seen in Lisbon, London, Bogota, and at Scotland's prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In October 2007 Fuerza Bruta debuted in New York City at the Daryl Roth Theatre. The New York production is currently in its second year. This Miami production is sponsored by Opera Tower and the Riviera South Beach Hotel.
The Lynn Wolson stage has been transformed into a cutting-edge urban lounge for this production, complete with a DJ, restaurant, bar and modern art by local artists scattered throughout. The audience is ushered into a large, black box performance space curtained off from the rest of the lounge area. Dance techno music pours forth from the DJ (dressed like George Washington) atop a high tower. The audience stands, pressed tightly together, and is bathed with wind, mist, fog and search lights. When people started dancing, and the couple next to me proceeded to make out, it felt like a weekend night at any crowded Miami dance club. The only thing missing was a couple of sweaty guys with their shirts off, and the rumor that you could score some X in the bathroom.
Ushers push back the crowd as a huge treadmill appears. A man wearing a suit, and hooked to the ceiling by a flying harness, walks briskly on the treadmill. White plastic chairs and people dressed like Benneton commercials whiz wordlessly by him and land on large mats. The man gets shot and bleeds, but never stops walking. His pace increases to a run as he is met with obstacles of more and more plastic chairs and picnic tables, frantically pushing them aside. He bursts through walls made of paper and, as the treadmill comes to a stop, a bed appears. While he rests in bed, two girls descend from the ceiling hooked to wires at their waists. Suspended from above, they dance and tumble across a wall covered with gold Mylar. Their movements are like those of graceful ballerinas at first, but quickly change to those of angry spiders as they scream "Wake up!" at the sleeping man.
The man awakes after the girls have left and continues his walking. On a separate platform we see a room with walls made of paper. The five people inside appear to be office workers who proceed to break free of their confinement by ripping down the walls. They dance joyously in a style similar to what one would see in Stomp. Their frenzied energy builds as they smash pizza boxes filled with confetti over each other's heads. They then move into the audience, bashing people over the head (presumably painlessly) with the same boxes, and lure a couple of audience members on stage to dance with them.
The audience, now covered with confetti, is treated to more fog and lights as a gold curtain, lowered close enough for everyone to touch, sweeps back and forth over the entire width of the performance space. Over their heads they now see a clear, Plexiglas "aquarium" the width and breadth of the stage. In the center is enough water to form a large puddle or pool of water. Four gauzily clad women slide, splash and dive in and out of the pool. An occasional synchronized formation brings Esther Williams to mind, but the general effect is sensual without being explicit. The pool is lowered close enough to the audience for them to press their hands against it and get a few splashes of water on them.
The pool ascends to the ceiling and the man atop the treadmill returns with two of his friends. They climb a staircase toward a doorway they leads to nowhere. Attached to harnesses they fall out of the doorway, and burst through a large wall of paper as they swing downward. As the cast takes its bows, the dance music builds, and it rains over the audience. When the curtains open to release the audience into the lounge, the DJ yells "Everybody make sum noize! We are gonna be partying here into the A.M!" Some of the crowd remains on the dance floor, some head for the bar, and some head for the door.
Fuerza Bruta succeeds in creating the ultimate club-kid fantasy, providing performance art that stimulates the senses and entertains the imagination without taxing the mind. For decades major dance clubs in metropolitan areas have vied for customers by bringing in the latest performance art. It is likely that the average theatre goer may be disappointed in Fuerza Bruta as this show is designed to cater to the 19 - 29 year old clubgoer. It is more like going to a bar than a theatre. It is just as likely that the average clubgoer will find this show sensational. Technical director Alejandro Garcia and production supervisor Fabio Daquila have raised the bar for performance art, as the technical merits of Fuerza Bruta are most impressive. It is not possible for all of this to come together consistently and safely, night after night, without extensive attention to detail by cast and crew. A good time can be had at this show by those who know what they are getting into.
This production of Fuerza Bruta will be appearing through July 5, 2009 in the Lynn Wolfson Stage of the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of the Miami-Dade County Major and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. It also receives generous support from private and corporate contributions to the Performing Arts Center Foundation of Greater Miami through it's Membership Program, the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, the Dade Community Foundation, The MAP-Fund, the Sate of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For information or to purchase tickets for the many diverse offering of the Arsht Center, you may contact them at 305-949-6072, or visit them at www.arschtcenter.org.