This week has been magnificent, yet full on! I write this from our new apartment, while i finally have a chance to relax.
On Wednesday we met up with two other kiwi chaps, Ryan and Vinesh to go to Sleep No More. I have been sitting here trying to come up with the best and most accurate description of what Sleep No More is but nothing I have written has given it justice. So the general idea is: it is a theatre performance based of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and takes place is an old hotel with over 100 rooms. However, this is not your everyday performance. From the moment you walk in the door you’re taken back to what feels like the 1920s. Starting in the bar, there is a jazz band and flapper girl waitresses selling Absinth shots. Smoke clouds make it hard to distinguish anything, as well as the masks the audience are made to wear. Men in suits take the crowd in the elevator letting people off at different floors and making sure to separate you from your group. Each part of the story is happening in different rooms and different floors of the hotel and you can follow what interests you. No talking, photography or cell phones are allowed.
As I got off the elevator I ran around looking to find actors but for about 15 minutes I was left roaming around old hospitals, forests and offices until I came across some nurses. I began watching this nurse who was roaming through a forest, looking very scared, she approached a hut and that’s when things got interesting. Another nurse appeared from the hut with a bright light shining behind her. The characters don’t talk. All their acting is done by physical movements and random sounds. The nurses were trying to get to each other until the original nurse ran off. The nurse from the hut stood amongst the crowd looking at people and seeming lost. She then reached out her hand. To me. I took her hand and she led me into the hut in a hurry and closed the doors and window so the rest of the crowd couldn’t see. This was so exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. What the hell was she going to do. She looked at me intensely for a minute, reaching her hands out and touching my face. She then took my mask off (I should have brushed my hair that day because the mask proceeded to get stuck and caused quite the battle for her to get off). She made me sit down and gave me some tea. As I was sitting there, she handed me scrap paper and gestured for me to spit on the paper, I obliged. The nurse took the paper and rubbed my DNA vigorously over it. Looking at me in disgust, she grabbed my tea and threw me out of the hut, where some audience members had stayed to find out what happens.
The interesting thing about Sleep No More is that if the part of the story you are watching does not interest you, you can constantly move on to find different actors and a different scene. Don’t expect people to tell you where to go though or what to expect. At each turn as you are left to create your own experience. Your heart will beat out of your chest as you see white masks chasing an actor covered in blood.
Embarrassingly, I have never read Macbeth..i know, I know, shocking! But you really don’t need to have read it to enjoy this experience. It is by far one of my favourite things I have done in New York.
After the show has finished, which goes for about 2 hours, you come back out to the bar. We sat at the bar for the rest of the night watching amazing jazz bands and a strange clown do an amazing Lorde cover. Only in New York.