Wayra: In brief
Fuerza Bruta returns in the third installment of the De La Guarda trilogy. If it's anything like the first two, you can expect a visually impressive dance-rave thrill ride that merges striking imagery with techno music and aerial showboating.
Wayra: Theater review by David Cote
When the sensory-wraparound rave known as De La Guarda swung into town 16 years ago, it was the only show of its kind. Even in 2007, when environmental-kinesthetic mastermind Diqui James unveiled a sequel, Fuerza Bruta, there was no Sleep No More, Then She Fell or Queen of the Night. So has James tried to reinvent the wheel and beat the competition—say, by introducing narrative or literary allusions? Not a chance. Fuerza Bruta: Wayra is of a piece with its predecessors, still offering unique thrills for a remarkably young and diverse audience that, I’m guessing, doesn’t get to Playwrights Horizons very much.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. As a palate cleanser for theatergoers tired of living rooms and family secrets, Wayra is a bona fide thrill ride. Immersive theater may be more common now, but no one blasts through boundaries like these guys.
As usual, James’s nonverbal episodic spectacle (with an eclectic score by Gaby Kerpel that glides from techno and drum ’n’ bass to world) is a direct challenge to we poor critics’ powers of description. The crowd enters the cavernous Daryl Roth Theatre, where we are raked with colored lights and encouraged to shake our booty to the ambient music. The actual show begins with a white-suited man (familiar if you saw Fuerza Bruta) running on an accelerating treadmill, dodging furniture and other performers, until he’s shot in the chest. Perhaps the rest of the show is his dying dream?
The following 70 minutes include the customary flying stunts and, best of all, a return of the clear-bottomed pool that descends to within touching distance, allowing us to gaze at women swimming in shallow water, belly flopping upon the clear plastic to create percussive slaps. Eventually, a huge grid-covered balloon is stretched over the audience, with performers peering down at us through holes.
What it all means is anyone’s guess. Images of humans tethered to the grid far above suggest our status as cosmic marionettes. And the women swimming in the pool? Mermaids? Water angels? That visual trope of performers dropping out of the sky, grabbing a spectator and hoisting them up to the heavens—a manifestation of flying, or a visitation from death? Perhaps best to switch off the analytic apparatus and just enjoy the physical thrills—of which there are plenty.
THE BOTTOM LINE If you want to lose yourself in environmental eye candy, this is the place.
Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote