It was about the time when a nurse grabbed my hand, pulled me from the crowd into a private room, locked the door, and put a necklace on me saying “this will protect you from danger,” that I realized Sleep No More is one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had in New York City.
Sleep No More is an immersive theatrical production put on by the British company Punchdrunk, and chances are you’ve never seen anything like it.
They’ve taken over an entire abandoned building at 530 West 27th Street and built some absolutely incredible sets spanning 100,000 square feet over five floors – including, of course, the McKittrick Hotel seen in Monday’s post (I never seem to get that April Fools date right…).
This isn’t a stage show – rather, you are allowed to freely roam the entire 100-room set, which includes a taxidermist’s shop, a witches lair, a detective agency, a graveyard, and so many more that I don’t want to ruin by giving them away here (what you saw in my post literally represents only 6% or so of the entire set up).
You can touch what you want, sit where you want, open what you want – exploring is encouraged, as every item could contain a clue to the mystery.
As you explore, the play literally happens around you, a story best described as Macbeth meets Hitchcock. You might stumble on a vicious murder, an orgy (with nudity!), a violent card game, a ball in full swing. Whether you stay and watch, or continue to explore, is completely up to you (though you’ll find it hard to resist chasing after an actor when he barrels by covered in blood).
Oh, and did I mention that every single audience member has to remain silent, and wear a Venetian mask?
Unfortunately, the show has been sold out through mid-April since it was announced.
They’ve just extended the run, and tickets are now available through May 14!
What you’ve seen and read here represents a small fraction of the wonderful surprises and eerie secrets waiting to be discovered inside The McKittrick Hotel. I wish I could tell you everything, but rather than ruin it, I’ll let you book a room and see for yourself.
PS – A few tips for making the most of the Sleep No More experience:
- Get in at the earliest showtime possible
- Catch up on Macbeth (at the very least, the SparkNotes)
- Wear comfortable sneakers (it’s not necessary, but you’ll probably want to run after the actors as they zip by)
- Go with a group, but once inside, explore on your own – no talking is allowed, and it’s really an individual experience
- There’s no right way to explore, but my advice? Focus more on the action early on than the sets, which you can always explore during quiet periods
- After a point, the scenes will loop, allowing you to see overlapping events
PPS – It took me by surprise, but a few people made it VERY clear that they hate April 1, and really, any sort of momentary fantasy in their otherwise earthbound lives. Me, I love being snookered in good fun when I’m least expecting it. But if you weren’t a fan of Monday’s post, you probably shouldn’t read this. And you definitely shouldn’t read this. And by all means, stay away from this.