sleep no more ny

If you've heard of Sleep No More, thought about seeing it, and are kicking yourself for missing it, consider yourself the luckiest person on the planet. Although I'll admit my daughter, the one who convinced me to go to this function in the first place, loved the experience, I did not.

Breathe No More would better describe my encounter.

Inspired by MacBeth, Sleep No More is an immersive theatrical production put on by the British company Punchdrunk, where the play literally happens around the audience as they move freely and choose their own path through the story. I will try to summarize the evening held at the McKittrick Hotel for you as honestly as I can.

The five floor, hundred room maze is open for guests to freely roam and explore, all the while being distracted by actors and actresses (unmasked) who partake in odd and disturbing performances. The seasoned guests are quickly detected as they scurry from room to room in search of the characters, and stand inches away from them hoping to be mistaken for part of the show. To their dismay, the phantom masks give them away.

Did I mention there is no talking? That's right, neither guests nor actors utter a single word the entire evening. This rule is upheld thanks to guards (black masks to distinguish from our white) who quickly reprimand guests who might attempt to communicate in the quietest of whispers. The guest is shushed with a very serious and firm finger to the mouth. I experienced the shushing firsthand as I attempted to signal my readiness to go to my daughter.

I continued (silently) to plan a solo escape from the hellish nonsense as I wandered aimlessly from room to room, floor to floor, taking in the strange and unrelated performances, and could not wait to be rid of the heat and smell, and the mask. Finally, after two hours, we departed with opposite reviews of the evening.

Perhaps it was the 46 versus 22 age difference? Come to think of it, I'm sure I was the oldest person participating.

Despite my review, I am down with talent. I get it. However, I would prefer enjoying said talent on a stage, minus masks, plus air-conditioning.

The play experience has been sold out and extended for months. Clearly, my review does not match up with others, most notably my daughter's.

Read the NYT Theater Review here.

Photo credits here, here, and here.

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