I ventured out to Sleep No More last Wednesday to see one of the most spectacular and fantastical, not to mention bizarre, shows in town. The production is an interactive haunted house based on Macbeth (loosely) that lets you create your own show as you explore the McKittrick Hotel, a renovated club space. As I delved into a dance based dream world, I was spooked, surprised, and entranced. Here’s the basic walk through:
Get There – I get off the 1 Train in Chelsea and walk to 10th avenue. 6:15 in the summer, and the neighborhood is sunny and sleepy, and I stroll past a public school hanging kids’ paintings and lines of old warehouses. The McKittrick Hotel is a red brick building with a thin awning, between the High Line and the Hudson. “Is this Sleep No More?” I ask one of two girls hanging around the entrance. “Yeah,” she grins. “We’re starting the line.”
Checking In – 6:50, people are showing up. A bouncer stamps our hands and gives us the go ahead, opening the door to a dark lobby where we check our bags. “This is your ticket,” says the usher, who hands me a black playing card with an ace of clubs.
Speak Easy – I head up the stairs to a red room, where a band plays uptempo jazz, light and fun. They’re serving martinis. A man in a tux, weirdly genteel, sways to the music and charms his guests. “You have something with you tonight, you have an ace of clubs, yeah? Why don’t you take those and head over this way?” He points to a door. “And I have something for you. These are your masks.” He hands us white plastic masks with square fronts. Huh? Things have just gotten very Eyes Wide Shut. We’re led into an elevator, where a man named James gives us our instructions: curiosity is important, and fortune favors the bold.
The McKittrick – The house is replete with elaborate detail – drawers, envelopes, and typewriters deck the ornate establishment, and I turn to see my fellow audience members filing through their contents. But it isn’t long before company steps in. Wandering the hallowed halls are stunningly lithe dancers, enacting tense, wordless scenes, while Lady Macbeth emerges in gorgeous Art Deco. Part Clue and part Hitchcock, the show offers a panoply of visions, as acrobatic witches prance through corridors and Macbeth washes his hands of blood.
By the end of the night, I had a checklist of things I’d seen: diaphanous gowns, bald witch, indoor forest, strobe lights, medicinal jars, Christmas ball, gory bathtub, and a slow motion dinner party.
Be prepared though, as the actors will grab your hand and whisper warnings and incantations in your ear, as well as pull you into strange rooms. That being said, the production is unbelievable and ambitious – You might not sleep the rest of the night, but it’s one event not to be missed!
Sleep No More runs until September. The McKittrick is at
530 W. 27th Street. For tickets, call 866 811 4111.