Fuerzabruta, now in its eighth year, has performed across the world and returns to the Roundhouse for 100 performances this winter. Uplifting, dark, and utterly fantastical, there is nothing quite like it, but not everyone will find it to their tastes.
You're herded in to stand in the centre of the Roundhouse's main space, an air of excitement hovering over our broadly mixed congregation. It begins rather ominously, pounding drums and a writhing ball of body's swings above, more in competition with each other than cooperation.
The show's centre piece, of a white suited man running relentlessly along an elevated treadmill and navigating various mundane objects whilst breaking down cardboard walls, is an obvious but surprisingly evocative metaphor for anyone who's felt that yearning to escape the day to day of life. The sheer speed with which the tech crew implement each new prop and clear the detritus of the old is a marvel in itself.
The female performers, particularly, barely seem human at times. One of the opening set pieces begins with two contorted knots of limbs unravelling to disturbing strobe effect. These two performers proceed to circle the room, running across giant reflective walls which surround the audience in seconds. Screaming wraiths in wispy rags just fifteen feet above you making eye contact with individual audience members is an unsettling but fascinating experience.
Following this was the night's most aesthetically pleasing set piece. Giant transparent pools suspended above our heads, lit beautifully to show an embryonic, magical realist hodge podge of female performers playing in and manipulating the water. A soaking wet, nearly nude, maniacally grinning women, a few inches of plastic from falling on you is certainly an unnerving experience and you got the sense that the atmosphere created, hinged heavily on the cooperation of the audience and the commitment of the performers.
But at its best, their playful and inquisitive natures combined with the pools being gradually lowered felt like the mermaid myth come to life, audience member and performer staring back at each other from other worlds.
The second half of the 80 minute performance throws away any semblance of metaphor or self-derived meaning and descends in to an unbridled celebration of hedonism and performance; lifting audience members in to a giant inflated dome, and cracking polystyrene confetti contraptions across each other's and audience member's heads.
Fuerzabruta is a chaotic, non-linear assault on the senses – an escape to another world, which you must fully immerse yourself in to enjoy. The South American spirit of carnival pulsates through production, and I enjoyed every minute of it.