An intense 70 minutes of fast-paced fascinating stunts, jumping from one spectacle to another. Made to be interactive, Fuerza Bruta’s WA! Wonder Japan Experience is one big party.
Tite: Fuerza Bruta Panasonic Presents WA! Wonder Japan Experience
Show Dates: Dec. 14, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2018
Venue: Stellar Ball, Shinagawa Prince Hotel
Length: 70 mins
Tickets Available at: VELTRA
TP3 Says: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Date Watched: December 1, 2017
It was a Friday night. After a long and hard week, my colleagues and I slipped in the entrance of Shinagawa Prince Hotel, our tickets in our hands. Inside, a sign that says Fuerza Bruta Panasonic Presents WA! Wonder Japan Experience welcomed us, beyond it LED screens projecting a red torii gate. My heart pounded. I have wanted to see this show ever since I first learned about it.
Fuerza Bruta is both the name of the show and the company responsible for it. Originating in Buenos Aires in 2003, creator Diqui James later brought his team to New York, where their Off-Broadway performances were well-received. The company has also traveled the world, performing in cities such as Moscow, Shanghai, and Manila.
A Tokyo Spin
Coming to Tokyo, Fuerza Bruta spiced up the show with a Japanese twist. The title “Wa!” is an apt wordplay, referring to both the Japanese interjection for surprise (わっ！)and the kanji that serves as an identifier for anything of Japanese essence (和).
The same basic elements of spectacle are present in the Tokyo incarnation of the show—performers running through walls, dancing mid-air, swimming in an overhead tank above the audience—with some Japanese elements added to the mix, including the use of torii or shrine gates as well as samurai armor and kimono.
An Interactive Spectacle
One of the things that make Fuerza Bruta a standout among other non-verbal shows is that you’re not just made to watch the series of spectacles happening before you. The show describes itself as a 360° experience, and this is because the audience is often directed to move from one place to another. There are also several points in the show where performers reach out to touch the audience or ask them to dance along. This is not the show you want to go to when you want to kick back and relax. Come in party mode.
Postmodern Art Performance
The show markets itself as having inherently no storyline, but as something to be interpreted by the audience. In some cases, non-verbal theatrical shows use this as an excuse to patch scene after scene with barely any meaning, yet this postmodern aspect somehow works for Fuerza Bruta. I couldn’t help but see the running man as the average salaryman, endlessly trying to reach one deadline after another.
I was even more fascinated with the overhead pool, which started out with women innocently playing with water. Later, this cheerful play turns into rage, the same women banging the transparent pool with their bare hands, throwing mad stares at the audience until finally, they lie still, the waves washing their unmoving bodies.
The gender and media studies major in me couldn’t help but see this as a metaphor for how the media exploits women, especially in Japan where youth and innocence are commoditized in the form of idols and idol groups. Just like the clear-bottom pool, the media forces on us a voyeuristic view, often scrutinizing the female body and limiting the performance of femininity to unrealistic ideals.
For me, watching Fuerza Bruta and projecting my own views onto the performances happening before me was part of its delights.
A friend who has seen the show in New York later told me that her experience in Tokyo is quite different, the show having been adapted for Japanese audiences. True enough, while I found every bit of the show entertaining, there was a part of me that expected it to be a tad more intense. Although, this wasn’t on the performers as much as it was on the audience. I expected the venue to be a little bit more packed, the crowd a little bit more festive.
Some may think that this uncharacteristic of Japan, but I’ve been to a fair number of concerts. People shake off boundaries and identities as soon as those lights dim. Perhaps with a bigger audience, show-goers can feel safer to lose themselves in the crowd.
If you’re looking for an exciting way to spend a night out, Fuerza Bruta is one experience you won’t regret.
Full disclosure: tickets were provided for free, but this review was written voluntarily.