Audiences who have long mourned the absence of De La Guarda, the international sensation where they could be lifted into the air at any moment, will happily greet the arrival of Fuerzabruta, an often-astounding new theatrical experience co-created by four De La Guarda veterans at that show’s former home, the Daryl Roth Theatre. But while this 60-minute entertainment lives up to its name — which means “Brute Force” — it lacks the sheer sense of surprise of its predecessor. And no one will swoop down and fly you up to the ceiling either.
That isn’t to say there isn’t a certain level of audience interaction here. Once again, patrons stand for the entire show, are often forcibly moved around by the staff (mostly to prevent being pummeled by a piece of oversize equipment) and are periodically pelted by water, paper, and styrofoam, the show’s most used element. At the very end, as well, the empty theater is briefly turned into a dance club, complete with an overenthusiastic DJ and music so loud, you might want to ask for earplugs. (The staff may be one step ahead of you, as they offered one of my friends a pair midway during the show.)
But you can go to Stereo or Cain to shake your booty; you come to the Daryl Roth to see a fearless group of performers seem to take their lives in their hands by performing stunts like falling off a 15-foot-long treadmill, climbing around impossibly high mylar curtains, or balancing themselves on a huge, shaky contraption that looks like it’s made out of aluminum foil.
What you don’t go for is any sort of narrative. While the show’s opening sequence, in which a white-shirt-clad hunk keeps running and running, and getting shot and shot again, first seems like it’s setting up a story, it proves just to be one in a sequence of attention-grabbing stunts.
And no moment in Fuerzabruta is more attention-getting than when a 45-foot-wide clear-bottom swimming pool descends from the ceiling, complete with four very athletic women swirling around. The piece de resistance arrives when the pool is lowered just enough so that audience members can touch it — which, of course, they do. (The act kind of gives new meaning to the term copping a feel.)
One wishes the bag of tricks in Fuerzabruta was a little more full — more than one sequence gets repeated — and that the segues between acts were a little more seamless. But there are far worse ways to spend an hour in New York City.