Mini-review – Fuerzabruta – Roundhouse

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Well, it’s the new year, and time for me to try a few new things, in this case letting a friend pick out a show for me. The show in point was Fuerzabruta at the Roundhouse, and I hadn’t managed to find out much about it beforehand other than it was physical theater and fairly short. The short thing was very important for me these days because my health has been very poor and my energy levels are struggling; however, I didn’t realize that actually I would have to spend all of the 70 or so minutes of the show standing. I was also quite surprised at the ticket price, nearly forty quid with no discounts to be found anywhere – in fact, the opposite, as the show was substantially sold out and I nearly missed out on going! All I basically knew was that it was a group from Argentina (this may or may not be true) that was here a few years ago and had sold out most of their shows then, so my friend was very determined to go, and I figured, hey, how often to people invite me out, and while the price was really too high, I was willing to go along knowing I wouldn’t be there for too long.

Aaaand … now I’m looking at the pull quotes on the website and wondering, did I even see the same show? While Fuerzabruta did succeed in creating spectacle, it did it in a world entirely populated by white people who had no desire to retain their hearing into their old age and little concept of photosensitivity. I’m fortunately not one to pass out due to an excess of flashy lights, but I’m also very aware when they’re being used and also that one of their purposes is to “wow” the audience (ditto with bright lights pointed at the audience). Similarly, very loud noise (i.e. the drumming that opened the show) and movement control (being told to go to other places to stand so things could happen as bits of stage moved in and out) is also very emotive … but it’s not stuff that gets to me anymore.

So that leaves us with the “content” of Fuerzabruta. Was it about the horrible soul killing nature of modern office work (very relevant to a London crowd, I’d imagine), about people’s desire to reach out to one another and make a real connection, or really anything at all? I can’t help but think it was not. So while it made a big shiny impact what with people running around sideways on shiny mylar walls while green and purple lights reflected off of them, or when a guy jumped through a wall of cardboard bricks, or when (ooh) the sexy girls in the pool floating overhead came down and looked and waved at us and we could feel the warmth of their hands through the plastic tanks if we just reached overhead … it was in the service of nothing. I found it sad that I was watching the very kinds of dance techniques pioneered by Trisha Brown (and lovingly recreated in the Barbican’s Pioneers of the Downtown Scene New York 1970s art exhibit) were now being used to create something I wouldn’t classify in any way as art, but just fluffy, noisy entertainment. It was just so damned empty. And when the evening was almost over, we were covered in a giant plastic bubble with the performers on the outside (occasionally popping through holes to greet us), and I thought, yeah, what a metaphor: a big bunch of hot air that all of us inside have created for the benefit of the performers and their production company at forty quid a pop. I guess they’re doing something right as the house was packed, but for the money I’ve rarely spent a more vapid evening.

(This review is for the 7 PM performance that took place on Friday, January 18, 2013. It continues through January 27th. Don’t be too bothered that it says sold out on each show on the Roundhouse website: I clicked the “sold out” link on the day I wanted to go and got a ticket. That said … seriously, there are a MILLION better ways to spend that much money.)

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