Last night I donned a white Venetian mask and immersed myself in “Sleep No More“, a theatrical event called “4 star” and “one of this Spring’s must-see events”.
This photo I snapped this morning – NOT while at The McKittrick Hotel.
During my adventure, I tried to take a couple of iPhone pictures – not recommended as: 1) no photography is permitted and 2) it’s very dark and photos are likely to turn out like this:
so, why bother? Simply, because I defy the term “no pictures” – that’s why.
Here’s a great review by Matt Windman of amNewYork:
You may have seen “Macbeth” plenty of times before. But have you ever chased the title character up and down several flights of stairs after he murders the king? Or wandered into an empty room to find a very pregnant Lady Macduff silently at prayer?
Plainly put, you’ve never experienced anything quite like “Sleep No More,” an immense, nonlinear and sensory-based theatrical experience. It combines narrative elements of “Macbeth” with aspects of Hitchcockian noir, modern dance, masquerade and a haunted house.
It begins with spectators lining up in front of a Chelsea warehouse. They receive white party masks and are dropped off in what appears to be a 1930s-era hotel. You might find yourself in a ballroom, foggy forest, hospital wing, hotel lobby, graveyard or dozens of other locations created in 100 rooms over six floors.
Actors are spotted here and there. They speak few words and don’t interact with the audience. If you follow one around, he or she might eventually be murdered, eat at a banquet or join in an orgy. Genuinely creepy music plays in the background.
You can also just roam the halls on your own, marveling at the absolutely spectacular sense of detail. Unlike a museum, you are free to touch countless props such as handwritten letters, telephones, jars, dolls, crucifixes or candies.
One person’s experience of “Sleep No More” is sure to be unlike another’s. While you might not gain much insight into “Macbeth,” you will never again come so close its characters. Wear comfortable shoes and be ready for a lot of up-close nudity.
And, for tips on best enjoying the experience, I couldn’t say it better than this (comments by Elisabeth Vincentelli of The New York Post):
To make the most of your trip, and since “Sleep No More” can be overwhelming, here are a few tips based on my experience navigating the maze that is the McKittrick Hotel.
First of all, brush up your Shakespeare: “Sleep No More” isn’t a traditional staging of “Macbeth,” but it does use a lot of its lines, characters and imagery. Being familiar with the plot heightens the experience.
Second, use the coat check: It gets toasty in there, and bags are a hindrance. Better to travel light — and to leave your phone behind. The last thing you want is for a text to break the spell, or to walk into someone hunched over a bright screen. It completely takes you out of the mood, and mood is everything to “Sleep No More.” So leave your safety blanket behind for a change, and let someone else dictate the agenda.
Because make no mistake, there’s a higher power at work in “Sleep No More”: You may think you’re roaming freely, but directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle have made sure that you end up exactly where they want you to be. It’s only during the final scene — where somehow the audience congregates, as if pulled by dark forces — that you realize just how many people had been spread out all over the McKittrick.
Third, play along if an actor interacts with you in one way or another. It happened to me three times — and since all the audience members wear identical masks, these actors had no way of knowing who I was — and every time I felt my knees go weak with tension.
Finally, take your time. What’s amazing about this immersive show is the combination of large scale (about 100 rooms on six floors) and minute details (each room is meticulously designed and furnished). Make sure you look behind curtains and peek around dark corners.
Actually, there are exceptions to the leisurely rule: Many of the fleet-footed actors move very fast along the hallways and up and down the staircases — it’s worth trying to keep up with them.
And pay no attention to lessons learned in horror movies: If you see a disheveled man covered in gore head toward a dimly lit room while scary music plays in the background, by all means, follow him!
“Sleep No More” – a fantastic interactive theatrical performance here in Manhattan – runs through July 9, 2011, and tickets can be purchased here.
I am very tempted to do it again!