NYC: Sleep No More
I went to NYC in December for the purpose of seeing Sleep No More, an interactive performance art production based on the Shakespeare play Macbeth. The production was wonderful and definitely one of the more interesting and novel things I have done in a long time. It is set in an abandoned hotel of five floors with various rooms decorated with different themes (office, bedrooms, ballroom etc.)
It starts with a strange tall man, who speaks in a slow voice, giving instructions on entering the main part of the performance. This takes place in a small red room. Everyone was instructed to put on white masks. I think the masks are mostly to enable people to distinguish between spectators and actors but it also enhanced the eeriness. I felt like I was in the red room in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, except instead of a little person, there was a tall man
Different groups of people are dropped off on different floors and at that point, the entire building is yours to discover. The different set pieces can be explored, drawers can be opened and couches can be sat on. There are various scenes (no talking, mostly dancing or silent acting) taking place throughout the building. The actors will perform literally a foot from your face; I was fearful at times that I would get hit. They even incorporate some spectators into the performance. However, there is no linearity to the scenes. They are repeated throughout the evening until the final culmination in the dining room. For this reason, it was hard to piece the entire story line together. I had last read Macbeth almost 15 years ago, so my memory was quite hazy. I’ve been told that it’s best to see the play numerous times so you can experience different scenes that you may have missed and in a different order to truly get a hold of what’s going on.
Overall, despite not really getting a full idea of the story, it was an amazing experience. There are very few boundaries in the performance, making it both exhilarating and scary. I look forward to more productions with an immersive experience.