An actor storms past you and hurls himself on a billiards table. An actress in her misty bedroom drops her robe at your feet then slips a negligee over her body. Where
Good question. And one that audiences at
Sleep No More have been asking for a year since its
debut on the far west side of New York’s Chelsea
Sleep No More, from Britain’s Punchdrunk
Theater Company, is “immersive theater”—right
down to the bathtubs that permeate the space and
the characters actually utilize—and the audience
moves in the same space as the actors.
That space is a warren of old warehouses
refashioned as The McKittrick Hotel, a conceit
borrowing its name from Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The
year is 1938, and the setting, costumes and cocktails (there is a bar!) adhere to the zeitgeist of the
1930s and the cinematic spirit of film noir.
The drama is loosely based on Shakespeare’s
Macbeth, but you might have a hard time figuring
that out. Inside the hotel, you are turned loose
to ramble for a couple of hours (or as long as you
choose) through elaborately and phantasmagorically decorated rooms, 100 in all, and witness
whatever bits and pieces of dramatic action that
you happen upon. Audience members may not
speak and must wear masks. Every where the light
is dimly dramatic, and mist generators maintain
a perpetual fog.
More than anything, Sleep No More is a ballet,
meticulously choreographed, sometimes violently
so. Like the audience, actors do not speak but
interact in breathtaking,
often dangerous swoops
and gestures (most of the
cast are trained dancers).
The action is scored by an
ever-present, dark, orches-
tral soundtrack, like those
of the great Holly wood
thrillers of the era.
It’s hard to know what to
make of Sleep No More, but
here’s a start: Don’t try to
analyze it; just take a walk
through it and enjoy the
ride. Also, whatever you
do, don’t miss this unforgettable experience.
nyc.com —Greg G. Weber
JUST A 4-MINUTE WALK
FROM PENN STATION!
Close, convenient, and
more comfortable than ever,
the Wyndham Garden
Times Square South is
centrally located to all
of New York’s greatest
attractions and business
hubs. Combine that with
free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and
Wyndham’s Be Well bedding
and you’ll be nestled in an
oasis of calm just 4 minutes
from Penn Station.
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