Theatre review: Fuerzabruta at Roundhouse

Bizarre, confusing, unnerving yet exciting, Diqui James’ show Fuerzabruta is an accessible modern-day equivalent to visiting Bedlam. Rather than paying to go to mental asylums to watch crazed individuals, Londoners can now go to Chalk Farm’s Roundhouse instead.

Fuerzabruta is an 80-minute show which has no plot, and performers that have lost the plot – a rare combination of the utterly plot-less.  The scenes that unfold amidst the spectacle were certainly difficult to get your head around.

Wailing females with tortured faces chasing each other like mad sirens were juxtaposed with a treadmill and a running man, who despite numerous gunshot wounds and deaths, was consistently resurrected. This Mo Farrah/Jesus hybrid was then followed by a George Washington DJ who smiled creepily and bounced up and down erratically for a while. There was no underlying message or deeper meaning, and the shifts were random, abstract and at times clunky, especially when the audience had to be ushered around the pit.

However, though nonsensical, it is not to say that Fuerzabruta isn’t enjoyable. Just as our predecessors enjoyed watching the inhabitants of Bedlam, the audience equally enjoyed watching the actors in Roundhouse. There is something exciting about watching humans shun social norms and act out; we do secretly enjoy the occasional drunken person on the Underground that screams incoherently. It is ingrained in human nature that we enjoy people who make a spectacle of themselves. People are interested in people.

Reiterating this interest in our fellow man was the best scene of the night – the human aquarium.  Four semi-clothed women splashed around on a translucent board which was lowered above the audience’s heads. Curving their bodies, diving and then looking through the water with their eyes open like possessed nymphs, the women captivated the audience. The board lowered further and a few stray hands reached up to touch them, just as one taps on a fish tank. They were there for our entertainment and we were entitled to ogle them.

Fuerzabruta is an odd one; it may be plot-less but it is also original, innovative and thoroughly entertaining. Unlike anything in the present theatrical market, the performance is well worth a visit if you don’t mind watching something purely for watching’s sake. Prepare yourself for a completely pointless, wacky and alternative cocktail of music, dance and special effects.

Verdict: ••••

Alice Audley

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