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Sleep No More

My cousin Marisa came into town last weekend and wanted to see a show. We could have just seen a typical Broadway performance, but instead we decided to do something much more unique. We got tickets to Sleep No More, an interactive, immersive, artistic (or you could say… weird) work of theater.

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

You begin by arriving at the McKittrick Hotel, a hidden “hotel” located in Chelsea. All that you have to identify it is a small plaque on the wall, so keep your eyes open.

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

After waiting a bit, you’ll be escorted through these doors, and into the film noir-themed hotel.

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

You are then given your room key, and you must wind your way through dark corridors to get to the hotel bar. Already, you can tell that this is going to be an incredible experience.

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

While you’re enjoying your drink, you’ll notice that a man in a tuxedo will read a number every so often. Once you hear the number on your room key, it’s time for the experience to begin.

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

You’ll be given this mask, and told to remain silent throughout the entire experience. Then you enter the elevator, where you’ll be deposited on one of the warehouse’s many floors.

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

The next several hours involve an exploration of the five floors of the “hotel,” however there are also unrelated rooms like doctor’s offices, a cemetery, shops, gardens, an asylum, etc. You move at your own pace, and determine where you want to go and what you want to do. You’re encouraged to touch things, and it was common to see audience members opening suitcases, rifling through drawers, and pulling back sheets. The attention to detail is amazing! For example, every book had an inscription on the first page, and I made a point of reading all of them as I went through the rooms.

While you’re exploring, actors (who aren’t speaking either) lead you on a chase up and down stairs, through corridors, and into dark rooms (don’t wear heels!). It’s a challenge to follow these characters, who purposefully make it difficult for you to keep up. Their interactions with each other are silent too, and involve dance, miming and murder.

The idea is to experience it alone, and then at the end of the show to meet up with your group and talk about what you each witnessed. Then hopefully you can piece together more of the story, in order to figure out what really happened at the hotel. I thought that Sleep No More was very well done, but one thing that I didn’t like was that there was no explanation given at the end. We were never told what was going on, and I found that to be frustrating. You can buy a book after the performance that aims to answer all of your questions, but after paying $120 for a ticket, spending an extra $20 for an explanation of what you just saw seemed like a scam.

This was all that I knew going in, so if you haven’t seen Sleep No More yet I recommend not reading past this point. Seriously. You’ll be happier that you were surprised!

You can get tickets to Sleep No More here.

If you have, however, seen the show already, continue reading…

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

Last chance to stop reading if you haven’t seen it! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As I mentioned, I didn’t know much going into it. I thought that there was a mystery that we were supposed to be solving, so I was trying to be a detective. After seeing all of the mirrors turned around, and noticing how the actors kept looking into mirrors as they went through their sequences (and even appeared to bite each other at one point!) I had it all figured out: vampires.

However, as you may know, the performance is actually supposed to be a “modern” Macbeth. What?! What about the vampires?!

But why were there so many crosses? And what’s with the baby bodies hanging from the ceiling in the nursery? The frustrating part is that we’re never told why the mirrors are flipped, and why there’s red thread throughout the hotel. Or why Grace went missing, or who the woman in the red dress is. Knowing that the show is based off of Macbeth doesn’t explain why the rooms are set up the way that they are, or why the actors do what they do. So I ended up making up these story lines in my head, and essentially inventing an entire script. Perhaps this is what they intended, for everyone to write their own story?

One thing that did make me laugh was how different my experience was from Marisa’s. Apparently, there are naked scenes. Everywhere. However, I didn’t see any of them! So afterwards, when my cousin was horrified at how much skin she saw, I thought she was joking! Of all the people to have to witness this, she was just about the last person who would appreciate the “art.” My family laughed when they heard the story, because “it’s always Marisa!”

If you’ve seen it, I would love to hear your take on it!

Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel - New York City - Wanderlust in the City

And remember, fortune favors the bold.


7 replies »

  1. This sounds incredibly interesting. Was it scary? After just reading the Shining, I feel like I’d be scared.

  2. I’ve been 86 times. It is truly the most astounding piece of art ever– Actually the company that created it, Punchdrunk, mounted a new production in London last year called THE DROWNED MAN, which was in many ways even better. However, SNM holds a special place in my heart. FYI, the woman in the red dress is Hecate, the “head witch.” Definite references to Macbeth through her character and the witches (who perform much of the naked stuff your cousin was referring to).

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