Fuerzabruta, Roundhouse

My Facebook feed has been clogged up with flabbergasted Fuerzabruta participants, accompanied by blurry photos of the mad and chaotic acts.

The first show to play at the re-opened Roundhouse in 2006, it continues to thrill at this great London venue on its third run.

This contemporary theatre and circus show originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2005, created by Diqui James. Since it began, it has been witnessed by over 3 million people in 25 different countries.

Fuerzabruta translates as ‘brute force’ and this theme is evident throughout in both the action and the music. The Fuerzabruta signature soundtrack provides an energetic and clubby backbone for the production, rhythmically it motivates both the performers and audience.

Visually I found the show intermittently spectacular, and there is no doubt about the creative team’s talent. The ‘running man’ runs relentlessly on a treadmill enduring gunshots, walls of cardboard boxes, and other potentially dangerous interference. Iridescent foil covers the walls as floating dancers chase each other in the air. Then there are the impressive suspended swimming pools that hover just above ones head: we were invited to place our palms on the surface as girls splash about in the tanks. It is bizarre and unexpected, and certainly feels thrillingly precarious although it does leave you with a painful cricked neck.

There is no shortage of theatrics: smoke machines, water sprays and falling confetti are utilised constantly. After the initial euphoria and excitement, I did feel some of the acts were verging on ridiculous. With no apparent storyline, it is difficult to find reason in the performance.

Parts of the show are undeniably memorable, but I left wondering what it was all about…

Fuerzabruta continues until Sunday 2 March, book here.

Kooza, Cirque du Soleil Premiere, Royal Albert Hall

Sitting in the great Royal Albert Hall on 8th January with Jeremy Clarkson on my right, Darcy Bussell on my left and Holly Valance (avec Candy Bro Beau) behind,  I felt sure that I had the hottest ticket in London. Next morning I was reassured further by my mother’s reports from the Daily Mail website… celebrities turned up in their masses to the Cirque du Soleil premiere… well why would you turn down a golden ticket to see the greatest circus show in the world?

Kooza is a story of opposites: love and hate, life and death, fear and wonder. Loosely based around the world of a clown, the narrative begins and ends with notions of innocence and trickery. Like most of the Cirque shows, the storyline is enigmatic and rather nonsensical and soon becomes lost. In fact it is impossible to focus on anything logical when your eyes and ears are so involved in the acts on stage, praying silently they’ll survive the next jump.

As ever the production is beautifully realised, perfectly poetic and looks magically surreal from start to finish. They create another world that feels so far removed from everyday life, and gives every audience member a few hours of euphoric escapism. Music is played live on stage by an energetic band of musicians, adding to the dramatic climaxes. The Royal Albert Hall provides an epic canvas for the production and the stage has been customised wonderfully to allow for the extensive set design. Stephane Roy evokes memories of colourful carnivals and circuses of yesteryear, claiming it is “a genuine return to the roots of Cirque du Soleil”.

There is a good mix of talents exhibited in Zooza with the familiar ‘circus’ traditions all displayed through the acts: mind-bogglingly strange contortionists, a daring trapeze artist and miraculous tightrope walkers/ cyclists/ dancers. The clowning around became a little tiresome, especially at the start while we waited for the final arrivals from the red carpet to take their seats. When you consider the virtuosic gymnastics, it is hardly surprising that the comical acts pale in comparison.

The most electrifying act of the show is undoubtedly the huge ‘wheel of death’. A staggering, scary, revolving metal contraption balanced and set in motion by two incredibly brave men. As one runs faster the other jumps, twists and clings to the spinning wheel, seemingly moments away from a distrastrous fall. The crowd gasped and I felt my palms grow sweaty and my throat dry as each turn increased in difficulty and danger. I loved the final Teeterboard act too. A talented group of performers take it in turns to catapult from a giant seesaw, hurtling up into the air, sometimes with precarious stilts attached to their feet, they land immaculately after numerous flips and turns.

Cirque du Soleil continues to push the boundaries of human capability with yet another hit show of fantasy, thrills and breathtaking acrobatics, all whilst creating a display that is visually inspiring and musically exquisite. I never fail to be amazed by this impossibly brilliant company. Bravo.

Kooza continues until 14th February, more information and buy tickets here.