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A few years ago, we visited NYC to attend NYCC (New York Comic Con), which by the way, was AMAZING. This was before we started blogging our adventures and shenanigans. While we were in New York, we also wanted experience NYC style theater, so we attended a play that was highly recommended by a good buddy. “Sleep No More”.
So we bought four tickets (2 couples) and just showed up for the show. I have to admit that I did some research beforehand, and learned that most people recommended wearing comfortable shoes and clothing. What? To a play? Yes. Here is why:
SLEEP NO MORE IS LIKE NO ORDINARY PLAY.
This is the epitome of interactive theater. Sleep No More is not only a beautiful play, but also an immersive experience. You are the audience, but you are allowed to live the play. You are FREE to explore, investigate, and solve the mystery as the act develops in front of you. You can touch things, read letters, discover secret passages and hidden characters, eat candy, have a drink with the actors while in character (if you are chosen), follow any character to learn their story, or just explore around this magnificent place.
THE SET UP.
The first thing you need to know is that the play is set at the McKittrick Hotel. The entire five story building is the set. The McKittrick Hotel does not look like anything fancy from the outside. In fact, when we got there we were utterly confused about the location. There weren’t any big signs or fancy billboards that would tell us we were at the right place. We knew the address was correct, so we stayed outside the double doors where our phone GPS indicated as the spot (we were a little early). Then we noticed that people began to gather outside the door, so we got in line. There’s a VIP line (you pay extra for it) and a standard ticket line. We purchased the Maximilian’s Guest tickets which allowed us to skip the long line and be escorted inside to a bar (the Manderley Bar) to a reserved table while we waited for our turn.
They also give you a poker card and a white creepy mask…don’t lose it.
Ok, so let me back up a little. The McKittrick Hotel hosts several venues that are all basically connected. The Manderley Bar, which is a jazz cocktail lounge; the Heath, which is a restaurant that has live performances; The Gallow Green, their rooftop bar; and Sleep No More.
So, when you are escorted in the hotel, you check in your coat (if any) and you are taken to the Manderley Bar. Then the fun begins. NOTE: While you are in the bar, there are some actors that are in character and walk around. You’ll be able to spot them.
Remember the poker card they gave you? Well, that’s how they call you into the elevator and how they chose the floor they dump you on.
There are five floors in the McKittrick Hotel. Each floor has different sceneries. The play revolves around a redefined version of Shakespeare’s MacBeth. You don’t need to know about the play to understand it. I was very afraid that I was going to be lost, because there is SO MUCH going on around you that could be overwhelming; but you quickly catch up to the act and to what is happening.
Before the play begins, they give you the rules. Basically, you must wear your white mask AT ALL TIMES, and you cannot say a word, take pictures, or be interrupting (touch the characters, or interfere with their act, etc). This is how you know who is an actor and who is the audience. Every single audience member is standing around wearing the masks (kind of how the death-eaters look when they are standing around Voldemort). It looks cultish, but it’s super cool. You feel like a ghost. You are free and anonymous. Nobody knows who you are, and no one cares. There are a few people wearing the same masks but black…those are the guards; they make sure people obey the rules at all times ~ they better not catch you with a cell phone or speaking. They are super strict~
The play begins with a ball. The actors dancing (they are all amazing dancers), and the emotions, and dialogue is basically expressed by dance and body motions. There are very, very, very few words spoken by the actors. Some of them say nothing at all in the whole play, yet, you can understand everything.
After the ball scene, the actors break out into their own characters, and scatter around the building. At this point I recommend that you pick one actor and try to keep up with him/her. Remember when I said to wear comfortable shoes? Well, you will be running at times if you wish to keep up with your character. You will learn the play through his/her point of view. Each character have their own unique scenes and adventures that intertwine with all others.
There are times that the scenes might get boring if you didn’t follow one of the main characters. You can either hang out and just observe, or switch gears to a new character. Sometimes you will lose your character, so don’t panic! You will find him/her again at some point. Or just explore room by room, floor by floor (you can move freely throughout the floors), scene by scene, trying to learn the play piece by piece. It will all come together in the end.
You will see bloody murder, fights, love scenes, creepy witchery cult ceremonies, naked people really close to you (be prepared…there’s a lot of this- but don’t freak out! Enjoy the art and remember that no one is judging you because no one knows who you are). There are secret passages that you should explore and discover so you can see extra scenes. One of the floors has a forbidden forest kind of setup that will blow your mind. (Go to the tree house at the very end…there’s a secret there).
Some of the actors will chose audience members to whisper secrets in their ears OR to take them away into secret rooms and show you secret scenes, so don’t be scared! This is all part of the act and the experience.
Become a detective and try to solve the mystery. Perhaps the actor you chose to follow is the killer or the victim, or neither. You will know something that other audience member don’t know yet.
After a little while I was worried that I would miss out on other scenes, but then I realized that some scenes were repeated. Yes, in order for everyone to get a chance to see everything (mostly everything) the whole play repeats three times while you are in the hotel. So yeah, at some point you can follow the killer, and then the victim, or the people investigating, and you can see the play through each point of view. It’s a dream come true!
At first, I paired with Coco and the hubbys paired together, and coordinated to meet back at the bar at the end. If I had the chance to do this experience again, I would just adventure solo – no offense Coco!-.
Let me explain.
It’s cool to have a partner to talk about the scenes with at the end, but it’s extremely difficult to keep up with your character AND with your partner at the same time. We got separated several times and it was challenging to find each other since everyone is wearing the same mask! So, for the sake of the experience, walking around by yourself is the way to go, even if you go with a group.
Bottom line. If you go to NYC, you much go to Sleep No More and just live it yourself. It’s been a few years since we saw the play, and I’m STILL obsessed with it. If you do end up going (or have been) share your opinion of the play below! I would love to discuss!
Till next time.