Review: 'Wayra' has old tricks but can still amaze

AP Drama WriterJuly 8, 2014 

— The one thing in short supply while waiting for "Wayra" to begin at the Daryl Roth Theatre is any amount of the title element itself — wind.

The third part in the Argentinian multi-sensory trilogy begins in a stifling, windowless, un-air-conditioned room near Union Square. Then it blows you away — again.

"Wayra" is less a sequel to "Fuerza Bruta" — which played the same space from 2007 until earlier this year — as much as one that's been tweaked, as if on mild steroids. Live drumming and singing has been added, for one.

The man in white running on a treadmill is back. So is the high-energy dance breaks, the aerial dancing and the famous overhead Slip 'N Slide with four nymphs. By now, they should all be as stale as the air, but somehow they're not. It's still arresting, still beautiful stuff.

"Wayra," which opened Tuesday under the direction of Diqui James, is really a series of unconnected Cirque de Soleil-influenced acts stitched together with strobe lights and an overenthusiastic, house-obsessed DJ. And something more — menace.

Watching the man run along the treadmill and dodge furniture is fun — until he gets shot. The two women bouncing off metallic-covered walls are cute until they begin attacking each other. The couple hanging on either side of a huge silver sail are fated to meet, but don't really.

Even the women slipping and sliding gracefully in a massive pool lowered over your head seem to be having fun until, at one point, they shriek and pound on the soft plastic, like goldfish threatening to crack the aquarium. There's menace even in the show's black-clad wranglers, who use nudges and waves to get the audience to move.

The show's continued relevance may be its ability to be whatever its patrons like. Want to go dancing among some fun visuals? Hang back and appreciate cool athleticism? Get lost in a pulsing crowd amid streams of water and confetti? Get $99 and come on down.

The 80-minute show, which is the brainchild of the same Argentinian outfit that brought us "De Le Guarda," reaches a crescendo when the industrial strength wind machines kick in. Finally.

They help fill a massive clear plastic dome that covers the room — audience members help move it overhead with their arms — and which becomes the bouncy stage for some of the performers. Then it's time for a big jam session on stage with the cast and crew, before filtering out.

There are worse ways to spend a night and leaving it becomes clear what one of them is: Cleaning up all the puddles, bits of paper and debris off the floor of a windowless, stifling theater.

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Online: http://www.fuerzabrutanyc.com

Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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