Monday, 18 August 2014

Sleep No More, New York


Whoever said that the best shows to see in New York are on Broadway is about to get a little education in the experience of theater.  "Sleep No More" is an interpretation on Shakespeare's Macbeth like none I've ever seen before.  I'm so glad I took the advice of one of my dearest friends and wandered over into Chelsea to   the McKittrick Hotel where I was totally immersed in the magic that is theater for three hours. 

We checked into the hotel and were sent down an almost pitch black maze to a hotel lobby bar.  A few things to note. 1-it's so dark, you can't see your nose 2- you'll probably have to use your hands to guide yourself around corners 3- there are no steps or scary things to jump out at you.  You're totally safe.  So forget the world behind you, have an absinthe cocktail, flirt with Max and allow yourself to be taken into the wonder of the McKittrick Hotel. 

From the lobby, we were led into an elevator and asked to cover our faces with masks.  At first I thought the mask thing was kind of weird, but as I made my way through the hotel, I began to understand it's purpose.  

There is no stage.  Unless you consider that maybe they're borrowing Shakespeare's words from As You Like It: "All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,".  As you make your way through the hotel, you encounter different scenes of Macbeth unfolding before you.  Which means that the mask's purpose is to serve as a voyeuristic backdrop and help to lend focus to the players before you.  

In fact, as you get increasingly drawn into this crazy experience, the masks begin to fade away.  You're no longer startled by white masks as you turn the corner and the weight of your own mask on your face disappears.  

Ok, enough about the masks, you want to know what to expect from the show.  I'd love to tell you all about it, but I'm going to restrain myself to a few helpful hints to get you through.  It's so spectacular, I don't want to ruin it for you. 

1- Forget your friends/ date/ mom/ whoever and go it alone.  Chances are you're going to get split up in the elevator anyway, so just deal.  It really is for the best. 
2- There are very few words spoken, most of the story is told through some pretty spectacular dance sequences, so you should probably re-familiarize yourself with the story before heading out.
3- You might be recruited to participate. One of the actors might approach you and whisper instructions into your ear.
4- They run through the show more than once during your stay.  Why? because different parts of the story are happening simultaneously through the hotel and you can't watch all of it at once. 
5- Prepare to be challenged.  There are some hard to watch scenes and some set pieces that are bound to make some people very uncomfortable. 
6- You'll probably miss stuff, which means you'll be extra glad that you split up from your friends 'cause now you can fill each other in. 

If you're in New York and looking for a truly unique art experience, you've gotta try this.  It definitely challenged and awed me.