*published on 31 July 2014 on The EDGE
Cell phones are popping selfies and snagging videos from the moment the very young, hip, multi-lingual crowd bounces into the lobby bar at the Daryl Roth Theatre on East 15 Street. This gang is ready to paaaartey and the show hasn’t even begun.
The final installment of the De La Guarda trilogy, which began back in 2007 with the show “Fuerza Bruta,” is an Argentine-founded, multi-sensory spectacular created by Artistic Director Diqui James and Musical Director Gaby Kerpel. And the beat continues undiluted with “Wayra.”
This is a spectacle for our digital age. There are no regulations against the constant parade of photos, except no flash, and phones held in the air emit a ghostly light, which covers the audience as they huddle or move en masse, like a huge proteus across the theater. There is no real premise other than loud, sometimes excruciatingly blaring fun.
The show is comprised of an equal number of musicians, actors, dancers and a T-shirt clad crew of extremely young men and women who usher the audience, raise curtains, move furniture and I am sure create a completely safe environment for all involved. And that seems at times a daunting task.
The show never stops throbbing and the audience is on their feet for the entire 90 minutes. Everyone claps, sways, screams and moves to either avoid the cascading water, the huge fans blowing confetti or to touch the enormous plexi- glass ceiling that descends upon all creating a thin tissue between audience and the scantily clad, well waxed dancers who writhe in the sloshing waters above our heads.
The entire time a beat that could rival any ’80s disco causes the room to pulse and the audience to assume the role of willing drum major. All that was missing was the pervasive aroma of poppers to bring the dance floor alive, redolent of another age.
But this is the 21st Century and there was pulsing not dancing, and constant archiving for future personal use. The music is played on huge kettle drums and South American flutes as well as guitars and electronic synthesizers and it augments the sense of endless wonder that is attempted by rolling floors, aerial contortions and undulating walls of Mylar that shoot dancers in arcs above our heads.
But alas there is no plot or glue that moves the evening along. Perhaps that is an old-fashioned constraint and desire, but spectacle for its own sake grows tired even if it is only for an hour and a half. Albeit standing and craning upward or ducking to avoid torrents of water, which can also be a tad taxing, thus render play clothes and comfy shoes a must.
At the end, the crowd is in a frenzy and the performers and techies throng the stages clapping to elicit a musical encore. The bar is thrown open and drinks are two-for-one and the party continues, spilling out into the summer night. Why not?
“Fuerza Bruta: Wayra” enjoys an extended run at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street in NYC. For information or tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.fuerzabrutanyc.com