La Fura dels Baus




live review


London Docklands

ACROSS EUROPE they've played in factories, bus depots, town squares, while in their native Barcelona La Fura dels Baus have staged 'picnics' of varying anarchic extremes attended and enjoyed by families.

For their London debut they had an audience bussed from the ICA to a tastefully bleak docklands setting. Inside an otherwise empty warehouse (topped by the largest unsupported roof in Europe) they ‘set up’ their implements and invited the crowd to mill.

Few know what to expect, where to stand or where to look. By the end of the hour-long show many had run in circles dodging fireworks and bits of flying glass, been spattered by paint and some had egg on their faces.

This unusual evening began with some musicians creating a mildly mayhemic synthesis of early ‘70s Euro rock, drum machine, trombone and trumpet. Spotlights picked out two mud caked men at the back of the building. They moved as if in pain, rolled in sawdust, rubbed row egg into their faces and then crawled into barrels.

Nearby a car was ritually destroyed with axes and sledgehammers while the band, aided by the busy brrr of a go cart engine, played merrily on. Wild faced destructivists ran at and through the audience wielding jagged chunks of former car...

There was a loud bang; the cue for a display of pyrotechnics. Fireworks sped on wires above beads accompanied by more ear splitting bangs.

The climax found two protagonists fighting a duel with bucket of paint and then, sodden and slimy (but very colourful), scaling a pair of ropes to make a daring traverse of a high wire just beneath the roof. Finally each crashed against a white screen, bursting bags of red blood like paint across the canvas and daubing it fitfully with their flailing limbs. All was then washed away by a high pressure water hose.

Throughout, a wave of subdued hysteria vibrated the crowd; an odd combination of enjoyment, terror and the strange uncertainty of not knowing where the next confrontation would be coming from.

To search for a 'point' seems contrary to the spirit. La Fura dels Baus create a kind of adult adventure playground of fun, danger, slapstick and fantasy.


mick sinclair

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