Sunday, December 20, 2009

New York, Winter 2009 - Day Four, "Circle, Mirror, Transformation" and "Fuerzabruta"

"Circle, Mirror, Transformation"
It's either real but not true, or true but not real -- but it's not both. Although it's getting mostly great reviews and has been extended, there's a certain lack of genuineness that keeps me from getting more excited about a show that made me laugh hard many times.

The cast (especially the absolutely delightful Tracee Chimo, who gives a brilliant physical performance) is excellent, but the setup never quite gelled for me. The play takes place inside a community dance/aerobics/yoga studio in Vermont, where an acting teacher has finally begun a "creative drama" workshop for adults. Though the improv games they play during these classes are well-realized and often hysterical, I couldn't get over the fact that these four students become such excellent actors and reveal so many personal details in just six weeks of class. It began to feel like both a writerly and actorly showcase, and not a real play.

So ultimately disappointing.

Like their previous show, "De La Guarda", the creators of "Fuerzabruta" are working in a theatrical language that seems to me how an alien culture might attempt to communicate with us when there is no common language or culture or history. There's no story here, only the barest of thematic threads -- human struggle against (or perhaps dances with) forces that are far more powerful than they.

I love an intricate story more than most, but I still enjoyed every one of the 70 or so minutes of this show, because I love the kind of interactive, somewhat obtuse (but sensorily-rich) theatrical techniques director Diqui James has developed -- from the giant treadmill to the enormous acrylic pool suspended above the audience where the cast frolic as though on an outsized slip 'n slide made of really durable Saran Wrap.

As I write, I see that this is where that lack of a common language presents a hurdle. I can't adequately explain what's going on -- nor could I. Because the show isn't about explanations, it's about experiences. And you just have to experience "Fuerzabruta." Because it is undeniably magical.

Just remember that you'll be experiencing that magic on your feet: there are no seats in the performance space.

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