In the center of the Villa Villa Room a man is running in place on a giant treadmill. He’s attached to a cable in case he loses his step, but he seems sure of himself and keeps walking, dodging white plastic deck furniture and other pedestrians—people who are seemingly attached to the treadmill and pop up from underneath, get in his way, and just as quickly as they entered, fall flat off of the track. The music is booming and percussion is in a world of its own when the man starts to run flat out, his tie bouncing around on his beating chest. And then without warning a loud gunshot rings through the packed room and everyone jumps. The man drops dead, the spotlight still fixed on his lifeless body. But a moment later he gets up, checks his wounds on the now blood-soaked dress shirt, and begins to walk again.
This madness, this depth of script and powerful acting, combined with the eardrum rupturing beats, is Fuerza Bruta (Brute Force) in a nutshell. The show has been appearing at the Recoleta Cultural Center in Buenos Aires since March, but will have its final show on August 22 before moving on to the next location. It has already run with success in Chicago, Mexico, and soon New York, and has continued to thrill Tuesdays through Sundays for Porteños and visitors alike. I had only heard of it recently, but after getting a brief description and understanding that its one of those incredible shows which people always describe by saying “you have to see it,” I knew that it was worth spending a little cash.
After work with Vero and her roommates Cris and Pauli, we met up for a quick round of mate and then ran off to Recoleta, barely making it in time for the show. I tried to head to the bathroom before it started but got denied as the doors closed and the lights went out. There would be no heading in or out for the next hour. Fuerza Bruta was like something I’ve never seen before—there are no seats, and the crowd stands around while occasionally being ordered by the crew to move out of the way so the stage can shift.
By chance we wound up in one of the worst spots in a back corner, but for those who go in the future, I’d recommend getting as central as you can. The running man begins the show in the middle of the room, but once he’s been shot dead a couple of times and broken through some cardboard walls, the rest of the actors come out. It becomes part Cirque du Soleil, part Stomp, and for a while you have dancers running on the side of the walls or people in a cage, destroying the set and interacting with the viewers, who don’t know whether they should be scared or dance along. But everyone is wearing crescent moon smiles and slowly but surely the room turns into a dance club, with a rave atmosphere.
Big rig truck horns blare and mist is shot through the air, which would be nothing less than refreshing if it were summer, but it’s the middle of winter and those of us worrying about our declining health stand off to the side a bit, watching those who are probably on LSD or ecstasy get soaked in the middle of the floor. They’re the ones who are getting the most out of the show, as it appears to have been created by stoners, for stoners. You spend the whole time looking up so that after a while your neck feels detached and as if your body is lightweight.
A giant plastic pool is hovering over the crowd and we suddenly become aware of the half naked girls swimming above us. You can’t really call it anything other than artistic swimming, and they’re literally dancing with the water, making it follow them as the pool drops and rises in elevation, eventually coming in arms reach for the crowd. The girls start doing violent belly flops, and though it looks like it hurts, I can only think that it’s got to be the most enjoyable job on the planet at this moment.
Just as quickly as it started, the show comes to an end and leaves me wishing it was a weekend night, now that my energy is up and the dancing groove has been tapped. But alas, it’s a Thursday night in the middle of the winter, and I feel a cold coming on, so we call it a night. The show is only in Buenos Aires for another week, but the thrill of the act will stay with me for long after that.
Where: Villa Villa Room, Recoleta Cultural Center, Junin 1930, right next to the Recoleta Cemetery
Price: The price goes up every day, meaning on Tuesday it costs $50 ARG, Wednesday $55, Thursday $60, etc.
When: Shows are Tuesday through Sunday, at 9 pm every night except Sunday, when it plays at 5 pm. The act will end in Buenos Aires on August 22.