Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
Nine hundred people stand in the Roundhouse for this performance, at the beginning swathed in smoke and red lights. They are moved round as they have to make way for shifting scenery. At times this is uncomfortable and unsettling, as you can be pressed and shoved by the crowd continuously backing into you. This show is not for those who feel unhappy in a tightly packed throng.
The opening scene shows a running man on a large treadmill box who is suddenly shot. Tiny specs of blood hit my face and clothes. My notebook is still splattered. I always knew it was theatre and not an assassination. The man removes his blood stained shirt to reveal a clean one and the same scene is repeated time and again. Magritte like, white plastic patio chairs are held on the treadmill so that they pass the running man in a surreal moment. The man runs through the crowds of the city and through walls of cardboard boxes, doors are thrown at him but nothing halts him.
The other set pieces are a room which is broken up as polystyrene tiles are smashed and cardboard is ripped to loud rock and shouting, the actors kicking and stamping in a mini riot. There is a clear pvc bottomed swimming pool where girls slide, skid and spin as waves of shallow water are released creating the effect of choreographed fireworks with symmetrical human components. The girls' flimsy clothes, transparent when wet, add to the erotic effect as the flowing water flushes them to the extremities. Sometimes they beat and pound the floor of the pool to the accompaniment of drums.
There is a silvered screen, like a giant baking tray, where a pair of performers hang on bungees on either side, while grasping for handles like the ascent wall in Gladiators. The screen is pivoted and we sense the struggle of the players. An enormous silver tarpaulin flows and flaps over the heads of the crowd rather reminiscent of Slava's Snowshow, it forms and reforms returning to cloak the audience. Banshee wails accompany this windsheet.
It sounds prosaic describing Fuerzabruta in words. I really did like the lyricism of the swimming pool with the water maidens. This is lowered so that the girls' palms can mirror those of the audience who can reach up to touch the clear plastic. A switch of lighting shows the audience reflected, "What they can see," said someone. Several scenes are lit by a powerful strobe and that former novelty, a paper storm, is generated. The lighting is beautiful and I thought the bubbling and swirling of the pool water was like watching the hypnotic movement of a lava lamp but more ethereal.
The night I saw it, the show was 30 minutes late going up. It must be a considerable technical achievement for it all to flow smoothly. The excitement of the crowd was awesome. For most this is a fresh experience, different to anything they have witnessed before in the theatre and at £25 a head, is selling out two weeks in advance.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.