Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fuerza Bruta Doesn't Quite Succeed Through Brute Force

Theater Review

Fuerza Bruta: Look Up
Auditorium Theatre, Chicago
Open Run

A high energy piece of performance art created by the Argentina's De La Guarda company, Fuerza Bruta: Look Up is certainly the most unique show Broadway in Chicago has presented in the 10+ seasons I've been a subscriber.

Not only did the audience stand on stage at the Auditorium Theatre rather than sit in the seats, but the crowd--considerably younger than at most BIC performances--became part of the show, moving around the stage and even dancing & bouncing in accompaniment with the music and performers.

Those who enjoy large, loud nightclubs and/or drug-infused raves probably thought Fuerza Bruta was really cool. But despite much kinetic movement that provided nice eye candy in conjunction with (canned) ear candy, for me, "cool and hip" didn't really equate to "all that entertaining" nor "worth my time."

And especially if I had a bought a non-subscription ticket for $50-80 + fees (I have no clue why there are two price levels, as again, everyone stood on-stage), the hour-long spectacle certainly wouldn't have been worth my money.

For even in the parlance of Cirque du Soleil, Stomp, Blast and other non-narrative, performance art shows, while the performers in Fuerza Bruta were obviously quite spry and talented, nothing was really all that dazzling or mind-blowing.

In fact, although I know the reference is a bit anachronistic, throughout the show I couldn't help imagining Beavis & Butthead watching the show and commenting on what they were seeing.

"Look Butthead, there's a guy walking on a treadmill."

"Uh, yeah, but someone should tell him he's not really getting anywhere."

"But look, now he's running. He's running! Aaaaay, he's been shot. Someone just shot him."


"Yeah, blood rules! But look, he's taking off his bloody shirt and now he's running again."

"Dammit, Beavis. Can't anything stop this guy."

This imagined dialogue made the show a lot better than when taken at face value. Like me, B&B would have enjoyed the part when several lithe women were splashing around in a water-filled plastic tub positioned just above the audience's heads. Sure, it was unique and even somewhat sexy, but was it incredible? No.

Energy without emotion, or at least without stirring emotion in me, always feels kind of empty. And especially while standing on the same stage where I've seen several stellar performances--from Les Miz to Miss Saigon and R.E.M. to Radiohead--to be brutally honest, Fuerza Bruta (which translates to Brute Force) just didn't feel all that forceful.

If you have money to burn and like things that vibrant yet vacuous, Fuerza Bruta can provide an hour of enjoyable but not particularly memorable entertainment. But if you prefer your paid entertainment to also be somewhat enriching, don't Look Up, look elsewhere.

This 2-1/2 minute trailer pretty much shows you everything you'll see onstage. 

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