“Wayra” is an intense dreamscape performance piece. All images by Jacob Cohl1/6 “Wayra” is an intense dreamscape performance piece. All images by Jacob Cohl
There’s live music and dancing (you don’t need to get wet, but you can).2/6 There’s live music and dancing (you don’t need to get wet, but you can).
Performers swing overheard.|3/6 Performers swing overheard.|
Cast members swim and dance in a pool that descends from the ceiling.|4/6 Cast members swim and dance in a pool that descends from the ceiling.|
Mermaid-like acrobats offer a joyous escape into imagination.|5/6 Mermaid-like acrobats offer a joyous escape into imagination.|
Aerialists drop through the ceiling and dance in mid-air.|6/6 Aerialists drop through the ceiling and dance in mid-air.|
For long-term success, the best shows often reinterpret themselves or add new chapters. If you were a fan of “Fuerza Bruta,” the hit Argentinean performance piece housed in Union Square’s Daryl Roth Theatre since 2007 — or if you’d heard about it but never had the chance to go — the new “Wayra” is an opportunity to catch a reimagined version of the original show, with all news acts.
“Fuerza Bruta Wayra” means “brute force wind,” which explains itself quite literally as the show progresses. The audience starts in an open, dark room. Suddenly, percussionists and singers explode into an opening number on a small stage (which knowingly winks at the standard theater experience that the show is about to subvert). A mass of people, tied together in a single harness, drops from the darkness and begin swinging overheard. Then the acts of acrobatics, aerial acts and live music start to take place all around and above the viewers. Much of the time, the acts are accompanied by massive fans blowing up plastic bubbles (that you're actually inside of) and sending flurries of confetti spiraling through the air. What was once just an empty room constantly transforms into new shapes and spectacles, invigorating all of your senses.
It’s hard to explain quite what “Wayra” is to someone who’s never been there; it’s like an immersive Cirque du Soleil. The boundaries between the performance and the patrons aren’t gone, but they become translucent like the bottom of the unbelievable plastic pool that suspends in midair above your head while mermaid-like tumblers dance, swim and flirt, getting so close you can reach out and almost —almost — touch them. Smaller scenes, like a somnambulist in a suit running in a dreamlike state on a treadmill, invite you to let go and simply feel the experience, rather than think about any narrative too hard.
In the spirit of transparency, audience members are also allowed to openly take photographs of the show as it’s happening around them. But we suggest putting your phone away and just experiencing “Wayra” as its meant to be — immediate, visceral and powerful enough to transport you to a more primal state, if only for 90 minutes.
Check out Metro's exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a "Wayra" rehearsal in progress!
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For more theater reviews, follow T. Michelle Murphy on Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy.