Out of this world; Witness macabre horror in “as though your body were right” presented by Khecari.


The sun was setting as I squinted at an address on the side of a residential stone house. My only other direction was “in the garage”; So, I crept around the side of the building and encountered a sign on a closed chain link gate, which spelled out in big, bold letters:


Past the gate wound a path that led to a small garage. Dim lights shown in the windows. Before I could touch the handle, the door swung open. They had been expecting me.

I had found “as though your body were right,” a new work presented by Khecari and conceptualized by Artistic and Executive Director, Jonathan Meyer. Sound and music design are by Joe St. Charles, and puppet design by Tom Lee. The performance on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7pm, featured dance performer Amanda Maraist and puppetry performer Arden Lapin (performers subject to change).

“as though your body were right” is part of the VACINTIY DYPTICH series, one of two works created simultaneously but by two artists with similar influences. The other, performed separately, “Tend,” by Co-Director of Khecari, Julia Rae Antonick, runs concurrently at the Nature Play Center at Indian Boundary Park.

The performance takes place on a small platform meant to resemble an old-time puppet show. A red and gold-trim proscenium frames an area roughly six feet wide and shallow, just large enough to hold a human body. Four iron and felt theater chairs tucked into a small alcove underneath are rolled out only a few feet from the stage. The setting becomes ominous when it is announced that there is a cord attached to a bell that can be pulled should the performance become too intense.

The curtain rises to reveal a body lying across the stage, naked and facing away from the audience, dimly illuminated by a single, hanging lightbulb. The figure remains motionless against a wall resembling gnarled tree bark. A small porthole is cut out of the middle of the wall, to the left of which are several knobs. A sound like knives being sharpened builds to a crescendo.

The body begins to move. Slowly at first, toned back muscles begin to ripple and undulate; meanwhile, shifting lighting casts and withdraws shadows, the shading augmenting the visual effect of crawling skin.

The tinkling of one of the knobs on the wall announce the arrival of “the worm,” a nightmare creature appearing in the porthole emerging from an egg right out of the “Alien” horror movie franchise. The worm, a puppet controlled by two rods at either end, descends onto the body, crawls over it, and gets smacked away — but not before delivering a bite! This sends the body, relatively static up to this point, to convulse and turn on to their back.

The worm returns later, transformed into a large, hairy, four-legged arthropod, and launches another attack — this one in the form of an amusing jig dance — sends the body again into convulsions, spinning around over and over. At one point, the arthropod plants itself on the leg, which sweeps out toward the audience, past the threshold of the stage, like a scene from an old 3-D movie — “Come take this body from me, if you dare!”

But dare some do! The knobs on the wall — perhaps some kind of early warning system — ring furiously. Hands from both sides, from the top, and through the porthole reach and entrap the body. Metal wands descend to touch and shock the body, magnetically lifting it off the ground and then, upon release, slamming them back down with a loud “thwump.”

Throughout, the body is subject to abuse: They get slammed against the back wall; they are violated; they are forcefully impregnated… it never lets up! The real sounds of people and cars passing by behind us proves that civilization is not far away, so why don’t they just get up and escape? Ah, but a twist finds us right back where we started, indicating a cycle of events, causing the sense of melancholy to become overwhelming, all hope abandoned for this poor wretch.

“as though your body were right” is shocking, grotesque, terrifying and a whole lot of fun. A post-performance meet and greet with tea and cookies relieves the anxiety, but doesn’t lessen the sense of poignant dread, which follows you like a mischievous ghoul long after you leave the show. Amanda Maraist is indestructible in a knockout performance. Meyer has again woven his magic, transporting us to another world of macabre horrors. “as though your body were right” is not for the squeamish. But be brave! Only by daring to venture into the twisted realm of Meyer’s imagination can one experience a show that is truly out of this world.


Performances of “as though your body were right” run Thurs., Fri. and Sat. at 7-8:30pm at Make Do (2210 W. Morse, in the garage) from now to Oct. 15. For tickets and information visit Khecari.org.