Man about town: Fuerzabruta tops Cirque du Soleil

The show taught me why the audience plays a role

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The Independent Online

A pet hate: communal hand claps. You know, the slow, rhythmic ones, that uninspiring bands are always asking of you. It’s always a slightly ironic request as those hand claps are on an only slightly slower metre to the hand claps of a disgruntled audience. But it’s moot as I can never bring myself to do them; robbed of any spontaneity they are too organised and just too awkward.

If I go to a concert or a live show, it’s for the entertainment or the spectacle – not to be part of a crowd.  I have neither the space nor the knowledge to wax wordily on Brechtian theories on the role of the audience, but this week I did discover one show this week did help me see the other side.

I know I am late to the party on the Fuerzabruta phenomenon, but the show is back at the Roundhouse in north London for 10 weeks and it is brilliant. And it’s also unlike almost anything out there: imagine Cirque du Soleil with an edge, and without that intensely annoying made-up language. Acrobats in harnesses skip high along the walls, while a man in the centre of the room runs through cardboard walls, then two water tanks are lowered, where ladies in shirts and bikinis zip over spectators' heads.

Like the immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, the movement of the actors, sets and the soundtrack help herd everyone together to form a mass that actually feels part of the show. At Fuerzabruta this is particularly well used when you are called upon to hold up the sheeting that eventually become a dome covering the audience over which actors run and pull those watching from below. You couldn’t help but be swept up by the mass dynamic, and I was completely. As I left, I also remembered the other benefit of staying in the crowd: that the best opinions were to be overheard when walking out.

One young man said he “loved it”, but the only problem was that he wished he had taken ecstasy before it started, then there was the demure-looking woman in her sixties who told her friend, “it’s the best show, it pi**es all over Cirque du Soleil.” She wasn’t wrong.