Review: ‘Going Up’ is an Immersive Psycho-Erotic Delight

Purple Divine makes its theatrical debut with the world premiere of a site-specific, immersive piece in an elevator

Paul Van Dyck and Kelly Craig in Kiki Drania’s Going Up
(Photo courtesy of Purple Divine)

In this new drama by Purple Divine, two cynical strangers trapped in an elevator share their darkest desires: a death wish and a curiosity towards murder. Going Up is raw, intimate, existential and erotic.

An excursion into site-specific theatre, this production actually takes place inside an industrial freight elevator. While it may not be the most comfortable, it’s grittier than any set could emulate, leaving no details to the imagination when the performers say to “look at these lovely walls.” It almost feels like an immersive film experience. While the small space adds to the tension, intimacy, and intensity of the scene, the Stage Manager takes care to help audiences feel at ease. Spectators are free to sit or stand in the empty elevator, so it’s best to wear clothes that can get a little dirty. 

Trapped in an elevator, two sympathetic strangers are reluctant to chat, but their secrets emerge from a nothing-to-lose vulnerability, and soon they start to ask the questions some of us wouldn’t want to know the answers to. One is terminally ill and suicidal; one is a therapist by day, choking-fetishist by night. The alluring tension is almost tangible. 

Kelly Craig and Paul Van Dyck in Going Up
(Photo courtesy of Purple Divine)

Poet and playwright Kiki Dranias has created a deeply psychological story about the intertwining of two strangers in what seems like a stroke of fate. While the characters speak with cynical humour and casually inserted poetry, their dialogue poses questions about the ethics of BreathPlay and of assisted suicide. It plays along the blurred lines between control and free will, between mercy and murder, between death and desire. When the plot takes a manipulative turn, both characters must face the reality of human nature: “Serve myself first . . . then others.”

Dranias’s original script is nothing short of brilliant, and matched in depth and in craftsmanship by Jen Viens’s direction. Their quality-over-quantity approach, creates an airtight performance of in-depth content that leaves the audience craving more.

Kelly Craig and Paul Van Dyck bring a seemingly effortless expertise to their performances. They deliver their characters with authentic vulnerability, animalistic energy, and grounded presence. Choreographies of breath and movement amp up the scene’s intensity, until reaching a climax of heaving, growling, and screaming. 

Meanwhile, the audience is half-there, invisible obstacles, complicit in voyeuristic curiosity. As we trespass onto two souls probing the depths of the human condition and the values of society, we are enthralled by the unraveling drama, but cannot escape facing our own demons. 

This finely-tuned, powerful, gritty, underground performance is a must-see. An unflinching look at the existential, erotic temptation of death, Going Up will blow you away. 

Purple Divine presents Going Up
Written by Kiki Dranias
Directed by Jen Viens
With Paul Van Dyck and Kelly Craig
November 21 – 30, 2019
Le 5800 St. Denis, Montreal
Tickets ($20):

Trigger warning. Not recommended for claustrophobics.

Celine Cardineau

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