Luciana Achugar at The Kitchen

Luciana Achugar’s PURO DESEO at the Kitchen is several kinds of awesome and since there’s only one more night to see it, I would urge you to go check it out on Saturday. It is a black mass, an exorcism, a dark and creepy trip through a haunted house of gothic spirits full of ominous apparitions and evil portents. And it is really darned good.

The show opens in utter, complete blackness and we hear an incantation being sung in the distance, slowly it grows louder and higher and is rhymed with plodding footfalls, more like a stomping creature off in the distance. This gives way to a creepy Spanish-looking woman/apparition that flits briefly into view and out again. In another section of the stage a similar looking creepy human shape is sprawled on the floor. Lights flash up and out, illuminating grotesqueries and ghosts.

Eventually the performers reveal themselves – it is like one of them is a possessed monk and the other is acting out the dark visions. And they kind of switch off. Then Luciana doffs her Spanish apparition gown and performs one of the most disturbing solos I’ve seen in a while.

It really was too dark in there to take notes and thus I can’t describe all that happened, but it was amazingly simple – a few phrases (both vocal and physical) repeating, vanishing, returning again. The tolling of a bell. A crescendo of dissonance and noise. Silence, just the pained heaving of a soul in torment.

Rarely do you see performers as focused and intense as luciana and her collaborator Michael Mahalchick. Madeline Best’s lighting is exquisite and precise, the sound design is beautiful and Walter Dundervill’s costumes complete the gothic effect with style.

While the show is billed as dance it is definitely also performance art, a focused ritualistic exploration of haunting and the haunted. Sometimes you see a show and you have to try and follow it – this show actually made me more awake – I was riveted by every detail, hypnotized and waiting to see what was next.

Go check it out!

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