Theater Review: Summer’s ‘Fuerza Bruta’ Parties On

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CHICAGO – During the climactic sequence in the new amp-infused, celebrity-verified production “Fuerza Bruta”, hundreds of expectant hands reach toward the transparent Mylar pool descending upon them. Four bathing coryphees, exploring the tank as a child would a slip-n-slide, peer through the translucent water with the same anticipation as their onlookers. In the moments that proceed, hands reach body, giving rise to manifest excitement. The audience has not only viewed the art, it has experienced it. Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 4.0/5.0
Play Rating: 4.0/5.0

This tangible exchange between viewer and performer, one that is sourly overlooked by most decorous theatre producers, is at the heart of Chicago’s visiting summer spectacle, “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up”. Conceived and developed by the Argentinean troupe De La Guarda, the international hit is a palpitating 65-minute excursion for the senses. Translated as ‘brute force’, the piece bestrides realms of both experimental theatre and a millennial generation’s recalcitrance.

Martin Buzzo in “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up” at The Auditorium Theatre” target=
Martin Buzzo in “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up” at The Auditorium Theatre.
Photo credit: Fuerza Bruta 2010

Youth is the name of the game here, with marshal Diqui James equitably borrowing from the likes of “Blue Man Group” and “Cirque Du Soleil” as well as your neighboring collegiate toga party. The keg stands may be omitted (although booze is surely an esteemed fixing), but the piece presents itself as a kind of post-9 to 5 catharsis for its ripe audience, guys and gals too seasoned for “Wicked” and too trendy for Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The ten-member ensemble provides much in the way of tensile acrobatics, yet the majority of the production parlays through a vocabulary of zestful, unapologetic cacophony. Audience participation is less a solicitation and more expectation, as viewer involvement provides the cadency at the heart of the work. Fog machines spurt winded rain and glitter, confetti balls erupt in messy roar, and in the show’s penultimate sendoff, the stage at the Auditorium Theatre wholly transforms into a dance floor, complete with overhead showers.

And the solemn, dignified Auditorium seems happy to eschew its stalwart opulence for a two-month bout of carefree romp. Its once august lobby has made way for throbbing strobe lights and modish wait staff, offering a buffet from Jello shooters to glow sticks. Depending, of course, on your poison of choice when attending the theatre.

The cast of “Fuerza Bruta” at The Auditorium Theatre” target=
The cast of “Fuerza Bruta” at The Auditorium Theatre.
Photo credit: Fuerza Bruta 2010

The performance itself is devoid of through-line plot, but certainly not of human concept. Executed on the Auditorium’s capacious stage (participants are included on foot), “Fuerza Bruta” treks between various stage sequences designed to vivify aspects of the body.

An Everyman (Martin Buzzo) confined to an overhead treadmill -and business suit- traipses through both wall and peer in front of you, often crashing through both. It is the production’s most substantial offering, serving as an evocative parallel not only to midlife ennui but the current economy that emboldens it. The remaining vignettes delve between aerial relay, rambunctious teen tantrum (again, complete with confetti) and impromptu dance-off.

StarMore theater reviews from critic Alissa Norby.
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The sequences touch and tingle the fancy as the ensemble dispenses several acts with peerless aesthetic. Yet amidst the pounding score (composed by Gaby Kerpel) and sweating wind machines one hungers for a balance between marvel and content, an equation solely achieved in Buzzo’s portion. The viscera often astounds, yet a feast for the mind- as well as the body- may ultimately be needed to complete the meal. But the missing ingredient is hardly enough to spoil the spree.

“Fuerza Bruta: Look Up” runs through July 25, 2010 at the Auditorium Theatre at 50 E. Congress in Chicago. To purchase tickets or for more information please visit here. For half-price Chicago theater tickets, visit our partner Goldstar. staff writer Alissa Norby

Staff Writer

© 2010 Alissa Norby,

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