Friday, July 18, 2014

Wayra


Wayra
created by Diqui James
from Fuerza Bruta

Wayra, created by Diqui James and from the Fuerza Bruta company, is a great 360-degree spectacle presented in the cavernous gutted shell of a bank building. The event occurs over our heads, actors flying about like so many birds to the beat of some pretty powerful music. They swing from the ceiling or run horizontally on the silver-matted walls. It’s a set of visual bursts, one after the other. It begins with back-lit drummers and ends with a cloudburst of spray on the audience.

In one long passage, a plane of rigid, strong, transparent material descends from the ceiling – it’s a sort of false ceiling – covering the whole audience. There’s a layer of water on the upside. Prostrate, actresses are gleefully sliding around, peering at us, wonderfully lit so that sometimes it looks as if an actress’ foot is sticking down under the plastic.

At another point a flexible piece of plastic is over our heads, a sort of thick shower curtain with lots of slack. Its design is a grid on transparency. When the weight of the actors on the top side creates pockets, the whole thing looks like one of those diagrams of warped space that astronomers show us.

There are tense moments as well. We’re given a man in a white suit running desperately on a huge treadmill. White plastic lawn furniture approaches him on the treadmill, and then other actors; he needs to avoid them all. He’s shot – gunshot – a couple of times, but he recovers and gets on with the task. There’s a wall coming at him made up of white plastic boxes; he bursts through it indomitably.

Later, actor will toss the boxes off a sort of balcony, freeing themselves of emotional baggage and then dancing. It’s terrific.

Most of Wayra is as abstract a spectacle as you can get using actors. It works the way an abstract painting works, its chief concern its own elements.

What the production lacks is a unifying line, a recognizable character that we can follow through this funhouse. The man on the treadmill comes close, but he’s not around long enough to give the show shape.

But Wayra is so unique and, on the overall, so ecstatic an event that it’s a right-brained treasure of New York’s theatre scene.

Steve Capra
July 2014