I went to Sleep No More last night for the second time. If you aren’t aware of the immersive, interactive theater experience, don’t feel bad: plenty of people I’ve talked to in the last few months seem to be unaware of the production, despite the show’s popularity in New York since it opened in March 2011. Taking elements from Macbeth, Rebecca, Hitchcock, and Kubrick (just to name a few), the show is up to three hours of wandering around in the darkened multi-level McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, where bloodied actors run, dance, and fight accompanied to a blaring, dramatic score. And sometimes they get naked, too! But I wouldn’t know anything about that, because despite my best efforts, I seem to have missed out on all the fun parts.
Here’s what I saw last night: a pregnant woman being thrown against a wall by an angry man in a tuxedo, a hot guy lip-syncing to a cover of Peggy Lee’s "Is That All There Is," Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fighting in loud gibberish in a room full of empty drawers, the aforementioned pregnant woman taking off and on her housecoat (a scene I saw twice—the sequence of events happens multiple times so that the audience members can see the multiple storylines—because I happened to be exploring the woman’s bedroom right before she and a crowd of my fellow masked theatergoers trapped me in the corner of the room during the second instance of the scene), and a severe looking maid forcing the pregnant woman with a glass of cloudy water. Oh, and some ballroom dancing. That was kinda fun!
Afterward, I asked my friends who came with me (from whom I was immediately separated, as the show encourages solo experiences rather than tagging along with loved ones through the dark) what they saw. My boyfriend saw the famous orgy scene not once but twice, while our other friend complained that he mostly saw a bunch of dudes sitting around and playing cards or doing paperwork. (There are, I must admit, some really dull moments, and because you can’t check your cell phone for the time, the three hours start to feel like five.) While I missed two women breast-feeding a goat or the full-frontal male nudity, I did happen to see a nip-slip when a woman in a low-cut dress started writhing on a dilapidated bar while another woman in a red dress tossed water on her. (No one told me that there were some Flashdance references there.)
So it’s an unpopular opinion, I think, but I must admit that my second time at Sleep No More was kind of a bust, and while the production as a whole is pretty fucking amazing considering the design and choreography, the chances that you have any personal experiences with the actors (or see any dicks) are slim and random, leaving it feeling rather like a pretentious haunted house without the frights. I know plenty of people who have gone back multiple times, but the current price of admission ($95, which is up twenty bucks from when I saw it last year) leave me feeling like it’s probably not worth a third visit. But I still recommend it for the experience. And hey, Scores and The Eagle (depending on your gender preference) are a block away if you’re unsatisfied with the nudity at Sleep No More.
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