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Sunday, July 13, 2014

‘Wayru’ blows its audience every which way

The scene at “Wayra’s” opening night. (Brad Barket/Getty Images)


July 12 at 6:37 PM

NEW YORK — The one thing in short supply while waiting for “Wayra” to begin at the Daryl Roth Theatre is any amount of the title element itself — wind.

The third part in the Argentinian multisensory trilogy begins in a
stifling, windowless, un-air-conditioned room near Union Square. Then it
blows you away — again.

“Wayra” is not so much a sequel to “Fuerza Bruta” — which played the
same space from 2007 until earlier this year — as it is a remake that’s
been tweaked, and injected with a mild steroids.

“Fuerza Bruta’s” man in white running on a treadmill is back. So are
the high-energy dance breaks, the aerial dancing and the famous overhead
Slip ‘N Slide with four nymphs. By now, they should all be as stale as
the air, but somehow they’re not. It’s still arresting, still beautiful

“Wayra,” which opened Tuesday under the direction of Diqui James, is
really a series of unconnected Cirque de Soleil-influenced acts
stitched together with strobe lights and an overenthusiastic,
house-obsessed DJ. And something more — menace.

Watching the man run along the treadmill and dodge furniture is fun —
until he gets shot. The two women bouncing off metallic-covered walls
are cute until they begin attacking each other. The couple hanging on
either side of a huge silver sail are fated to meet, but don’t really.

Even the women slipping and sliding gracefully in a massive pool
lowered over your head seem to be having fun until, at one point, they
shriek and pound on the soft plastic, like goldfish threatening to crack
the aquarium. There’s menace even in the show’s black-clad wranglers,
who use nudges and waves to get the audience to move.

The show’s continued relevance may be its ability to be whatever its
patrons like. Want to go dancing among some fun visuals? Hang back and
appreciate cool athleticism? Get lost in a pulsing crowd amid streams of
water and confetti? Get $99 and come on down.

The 80-minute show, which is the brainchild of the same Argentinian
outfit that brought us “De la Guarda,” reaches a crescendo when the
industrial strength wind machines kick in. Finally.

They help fill a massive clear plastic dome that covers the room —
audience members help move it overhead with their arms — and which
becomes the bouncy stage for some of the performers. Then it’s time for a
big jam session onstage with the cast and crew, before filtering out.

There are worse ways to spend a night and as you leave, it becomes
clear what one of them is: Cleaning up all the puddles, bits of paper
and debris off the floor of a windowless, stifling theater.

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