'FUERZA BRUTA:' A Theatrical Rave

May 26
3:11 PM 2010

Chicago theatre-goers: do yourself a tremendous favor and see FUERZA BRUTA: LOOK UP this summer. Right now, if possible. The overall experience will leave mouths aghast and barraged senses begging for more.

Fuerza_Bruta_A_Theatrical_Rave_20010101In a way, describing FUERZA BRUTA ("brute force") gives away some of its secrets and surprises, but when a company encourages audience members to photograph and video their performances, the ability to spoil your evening is just a Youtube clip away. All you need to know is FUERZA BRUTA is an interactive theatrical experience, the likes of which are few and far between here in Chicago.

If you're used to, say, the Goodman and Steppenwolf's proscenium performances & Redtwist and Lookingglass' studio set-ups, you're in for an attack on a traditional night of theatre. Argentina's De la Guarda troupe is a visceral lot, throwing audiences into the middle of the action rather than a falling into the "we are the performers, you are the audience members" scenario. Director and creator Diqui James' landscape for FUERZA BRUTA is somewhere between abandoned bunker and late-night rave, with 10 phenomenally skilled actors -without dialogue- performing avant garde scenes of everyday interaction.

And swimming. Oh yes, and confetti.

"But FUERZA BRUTA's at the Auditorium Theatre! That's where I saw LES MIZ & SHOWBOAT. I've known that theatre for years; what could possibly be so surprising?" Without getting into the nitty gritties, you've never seen the Auditorium Theatre like this before. That's a guarantee.

With wild acrobatics, loose narrative, and nonsensical clowning, some may liken De La Guarda's shows to a Cirque du Soleil experience. Valid, but this is an entirely different beast. De La Guarda offers a grittier, rougher, less shiny experience. During a mid-show dance break, BRUTA's performers shatter audience member's comfort zones - without making them feel like they're the butt of a French-Canadian joke. Gaby Kerpel's eletro-beat score commands the 75-minute evening, allowing cast, crew, and audience members to move -and groove- around the show's proceedings. Yes, you stand for the entire experience and yes, you may get a little wet, but BRUTA's as refreshing as a glow stick full of lemonade.

As soon as my guests & I left the performance this past week, their immediate Facebook status updates -and I'm talking cellphone updates on the train ride home- were indicators to the type of night you're to expect: "Patrick insists you experience FUERZA BRUTA ... no really. Just go do it." "Sam says FUERZA BRUTA was amazing. That is all."

I agree with Patrick and Sam.

FUERZA BRUTA: LOOK UP runs now through July 18 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Congress Parkway. Tickets may be ordered at Ticketmastercom. Groups of 15 or more now by calling (312) 977-1710.

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M. William Panek William graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a BFA in Stage Direction. Most recently, he staged The Brown Paper Box Co.'s actor-musician revival of Godspell. He also directed the world premiere of To Tree at the Heartland Studio, Reefer Madness! The Musical at the Viaduct Theater in 2010, and its subsequent 4/20 mountings in 2011 at Studio BE and 2012 at Stage 773. Past directing and assistant directing credits include And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, Pippin, Nine, The Last 5 Years, and performing in Leonard Bernstein's Mass. Since graduating, William was an artistic associate with The Orchard Project's 2007 session in Hunter, NY, a production assistant for 2008's The 24-Hour Musicals at Joe's Pub, and the business management assistant at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2011. He currently resides in Edgewater and can be found on Twitter @mwilliampanek.

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