Friday 8:00pm & 10:30pm
Saturday 7:00pm & 10:00pm
by Shawn C. Harris
raincoat, wear comfortable shoes, and pack
light. You will scream at the top of yor
lungs. You will dance ilke a maniac. Fuerza
Bruta is no place for people who want
to sit on the sidelines and merely observe
with a cynical eye.
to want to impose a structure on a live
performance. The storyteller in all of us
wants to know why this follows that, what
this visual or song means, how they all
fit together. You could say that Fuerza
Bruta is an aerial dance performance,
but there are plenty of moments when all
the real action takes place on the ground.
Bruta resists these attempts to step
outside the experience. It overwhelms with
sounds, visions, and textures. And it keeps
things moving throughout its 70-minute duration.
One minute you're watching a man (Daniel
Case) running a long a platform as trance
music throbs in your ears. The next minute
you see two dancers in mid-air running back
and forth along a silvery cylinder like
two frenzied sprites. And then you're touching
hands with the performers as they float
and slide across a suspended water tank,
as graceful as sea turtles.
themselves bring remarkable energy to the
event. The exuberance of each participant
was so powerful I could almost touch it.
There was a wildness, an inexaustible vitality
to how they moved that made you want to
join in with them. It was clear that they
were having the time of their lives as they
danced, floated through the air, and played
in the water.
sets were inspiring. Whether it's the Swiss
clockwork timing of chairs sliding on a
platform, the daredevil aura of a trampoline
spinning in mid-air, or a flowing silvery
sheet floating above the audience like a
ghost, Fuerza Bruta instills wonder
through its use of space and light as much
as it does through movement and sound. More
than merely a performance, Fuerza Bruta's
sets make it clear that what you're not
just seeing a performance, but participating
in an experience.
think that herding the audience around a
dark room would break the enchantment. Not
so. And this is in no small part due to
the capable crew who ushered people to safe
viewing places while allowing the energy
of the performance to continue. Their watchful
non-involvement helped the audience to connect
with the experience not just through sight
and sound, but touch as well. As the event
progressed, it became clear: in Fuerza
Bruta, we're not just observers or
participants; we're part of the entire experience.
Bruta captures the essence of what
live performance means. It's impossible
to merely describe what Fuerza Bruta
is. You have to experience it.
Ticket Price: $72.00;
$25.00 rush - 212-239-6200; 800-432-7250
For more information: FuerzaBrutaNYC.com
Roth Theatre| 20 Union Square East
New York, NY 10003
Modern Dance & Multimedia-Infused
Adaptation of Hamlet
Thursday - Saturday at 7:30 PM
Sunday at 2:30 PM
January 29 - February 8
Reviewed by Shawn C. Harris
An engaging new take
on an old classic
If you go to Company East's production of
Hamlet expecting a faithful rendition
of Shakespeare's text, you'll miss out on
the best parts of the show. Company East's
rendition of Shakespeare's most popular
tragedy offers something far more interesting.
Watching it is like looking at a funhouse
mirror version of the original story –
in a good way.
With little dialogue (and
most of it Japanese) and relying mostly
on movement, director Kenji Kawarasaki immerses
us in the world of Shakespeare's play, keeping
our attention focused on the powerful undercurrents
beneath the elevated language of the original
text. The result is a riveting performance
that reveals new dimensions to this familiar
Ingenious use of lighting
and sound orchestrates an atmosphere of
confusion, madness, and torment. The storm
starting the play plunges us into the tempestuous
Danish court. As the play progresses, red
and orange lights play on the stage and
the actors, an all-consuming flame reflecting
the hellish state of their lives.
All the actors bring something
interesting to their roles. Hiiroshi Jin
displayed impressive range as Hamlet. He
embodies the Prince of Denmark's extremes,
and you can believe him as a son, a poet,
a lover, and a madman. Sho Tohno brings
genuine creepiness to his portrayal of Claudius
and palpable rage to the ghost of Hamlet's
father. But Ophelia (Yoko Tomabechi) really
took my breath away. Her transformation
from innocence to torment was fascinating
to watch. I was enthralled as I watched
her limbs move from playful grace to twitchy
nervousness and finally to flailing like
a woman drowning.
That's not to say that
Company East's Hamlet is perfect. There
were moments when the troupe's attempts
to highlight Shakespeare's language were
more distracting than engaging. For instance,
there were times throughout the play when
a screen displayed lines from Shakespeare's
text while the actors perform on stage.
To an audience already familiar with Hamlet's
plot and its most famous lines, the effort
comes off as redundant, distracting us from
the truly original and engaging work the
actors are doing. And the attempts to capture
the nuances of Shakespeare's words –
especially Hamlet's soliloquies –
fell completely flat. The irony wasn't lost
on some members of the audience. When the
performers remained true to the Japanese
elements of their performance, they shined.
But when they tried to faithfully reconstruct
parts of the original text, the results
were at best awkward and at worst laughable.
But the best part
of the show came after the end. The lead
actor (Hiroshi Jin) gave a touching speech
that revealed how profoundly moved he was
by the play, how much he loved acting, and
how proud he was to be a part of this production.
And as we left the theater, we were met
with the actors themselves standing in the
lobby, dressed in full costume, greeting
us and thanking us for coming to the show.
In a time when a “No Flash Cameras”
sign is the most direct contact the audience
gets from the actors, this display of modesty
and humanity is a moving reminder about
the true value of live theater: real people
sharing real space together.
Tickets are $25 / $20 for students &
seniors, available at 212-475-7710 or www.lamama.org.
La MaMa ETC 74A
East Fourth Street
Between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, accessible
from the F & V trains at 2nd Ave).