Sleep No More

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the 11 o’clock performance of PUNCHDRUNK’s “Sleep No More” held at the fictitious “McKittrick Hotel” (on 27th street off 10th ave, nyc). I had heard about this 100-room theater performance based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth (it’s becoming the popular new birthday outing for the artsy crowd), but I had no idea what to expect…About two hours before leaving, I received a text from the host that the production sent an email suggesting to wear “comfortable shoes and contacts”, and I was even more intrigued. After cocktails and dinner at the delicious Spanish restaurant Salina’s, we walked over to the performance and hopped in a long line with some interesting characters. Upon ticket pick-up (apparently they’re sold out for months), we each received playing cards with the ‘Joker’ and ’13’ respectively, and were escorted into a hallway that led down a long, cold, completely dark winding road, up some steps and eventually into a 30’s-style cabaret where drinks were being served and a jazz trio played softly. We ordered more drinks, and awaited instruction from a wizard-like english gent who sipped a martini on stage and called out “everyone with a Queen please step to the side. All the Queens please!” We sipped and observed for awhile before a soft-spoken redhead with pin curls in a black gown whispered to us that our cards were wild and that we could go with any group that was called. She leaned in and added, “a little tip is that it’s really fun to split up and go on your own too”. We looked at each other with blank stares. No gracias (WTH is going on here?)After lining up with the Kings, we were handed white masks, jammed into a dark little room with a group of 20 or so, joined by another dapper dressed redhead (this one bolder with a sultry character), who gave us the house rules; 1. You must always keep your mask on 2. You must never speak, etc. We crammed into an elevator with another strange character who slyly presented  options of floors to exit on (with only seconds of holding the door open). Then the madness really began…Let’s just say that the experience was intriguing, scary, bizarro, beautiful and at times very comical to a group of confused friends who felt like we had missed the preface that this would be like a warped trip on acid combined with magical taxidermy, interior wonderment, and “Eyes Wide Shut” silent drama with frantic audience participation.

Finally after searching through a maze of probably 50 of the 1o0 enchanted rooms on various floors, a shoe change, an inside joke silent lindy hop, and being almost trampled by overly excited fellow audience members who decided to run after the moving cast during choreographed fight scenes, we exhaustively whispered for instruction back to the bar from one of the mute black-masked guides who stood eerily in the corner. We found ourselves back in the 30’s lounge just in time for a medley of some classic lounge covers by our sweet redheaded friend (played by the talented Danielle Grabianowski), such as “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby”. We finished our last cocktail and giggle about all that we couldn’t say while muted and masked within the moving performance, and found ourselves still confused about what we had just experienced as we exited at 2am. This is just something that you’ll have to experience for yourself…

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