Theatre Is Easy: “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up”

Written by Theatre Is Easy

BOTTOM LINE: The most viscerally unique performance in New York right now. Unparalleled and unexpected, it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Many people consider New York City a mecca of cool, especially when it comes to the arts. God knows New York’s full of artists who yearn to create and will live in crappy studio apartments making little money in order to pursue their vision. I guess you could surmise that with a bunch of people actively making art, some gems are bound to surface. And when fresh ideas are expressed and shared with an appreciative audience, you understand why artists sacrifice as much as they do.

Fuerza Bruta: Look Up is one of those gems. It opened over a year ago, and since then it’s received an amazing response from critics and fans — Fuerza Bruta packs in full houses all the time, especially at their 10 PM Saturday show. From the creators of De La Guarda, an equally successful downtown performance-arty show from a few years back, fuerza bruta means “brute force,” and the show is described as a “360-degree heart-pounding theatrical experience.”

It’s essentially an athletic theatre piece (athletic in a Cirque du Soleil sense, minus the circus oddities) without words that tells a story in fits and starts, though it isn’t really about anything concrete. In a way it’s a fantasy, and as an audience you take whatever you want from it. Fuerza Bruta is palpable, manipulative, and it happens all around you.

For 70 minutes you stand in a room with a high ceiling while a DJ plays a cross between hip-hop and “world” music, sort of a nondescript, upbeat bass line that keeps things rolling. The audience moves around the space as instructed by the theater staff, who corral everyone out of the way of the big apparatuses that appear and disappear from view as the show goes on. The performers are aerial artists and gymnasts, and they perform stunts with grace and strength; it never feels like a sideshow act. Fuerza Bruta really is a 360-degree experience: sometimes you’re looking up, sometimes you’re looking across the space, and sometimes the performers are rockin’ out right next to you. Oh, and there’s a big (optional) party after the show — the DJ cranks up the music, water falls from the ceiling, and dancing ensues.

Fuerza Bruta is a supercool performance piece that feels every bit as satisfying as a unique downtown theatrical experience should. It’s a great way to spend an evening; get a drink beforehand and settle in for the adventure. There can be a bit of unease at first, especially for those who like to be in control, since you have no clue what’s about to happen in the haze-filled, crowded room, but if you put your trust in Fuerza Bruta, you’ll be captivated soon enough.

Fuerza Bruta: Look Up plays off-Broadway at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 E. 15th St., in Union Square. Performances are Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 7 and 10 PM, and Sun 7 PM. Tickets are generally $75, but cheaper ones can be found — a limited number of $25 rush tickets are available at the box office before each performance. Also look for discount codes online before you purchase tickets. For show info visit fuerzabrutanyc.com, and for more New York theatre reviews visit theatreiseasy.com.