Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sleep No More

I thought I'd need to wait a little bit before posting about Sleep No More, figuring that I'd need time to process it. But there's no amount of time that would be enough to process what happened last night really.
I've been hearing about Sleep No More for months and finally had the money to go and check it out. So my friend and I go over to this secluded part of Chelsea, to this abandoned hotel where they have staged Macbeth. We get inside, they give us these masquerade masks to wear the entire time we're inside, and set you free in there. Really. You just start wandering through the halls of this hotel and finding the characters existing. You're existing with them as the story plays out.
It would be pointless to rehash what exactly you find in there. Pointless. Just understand that it's dark, there is this eerily beautiful mood music playing throughout the hotel, and it's been converted to cemeteries, the woods at night, living quarters, ballrooms and forests.
Once I found Macbeth, I stayed with him for most of the night. That's where my friend and I got separated. But you don't care because you're so focused on what is going on. That's when it became real. When, after Banquo's ghost appears at the most stunningly-beautiful slow-motion banquet (really, I can't explain to you how beautiful really. There are no words), the next thing I knew, a bloody and very upset Macbeth was literally in my face, staring at my through the eyeholes in my mask. I lost track of how long that lasted, its like you are in a trance when you're in there. Meanwhile, my buddy is following a nurse and ends up alone in a room with her, being told a bedtime story and being spoon-fed tea. For real.
The whole this is as if you are immersed in the world of Macbeth - this incredibly voyeuristic experience of watching these people fight, make-up, mourn and exist. And then there are those moments when they let you know that you're in the experience by interacting with you, by grabbing your arm and taking you with them as Lady Macbeth did with me.
It was breathtaking and I can't tell you how many times I was in awe of what was going on. It was unbelievable. I love when something is such a dynamic experience that it becomes lingers with you. No, more than lingers. Stays heavy on you. I don't remember getting home last night and it's not for any alcohol-induced reason, rather I was in such a daze, processing the experience. It's set up in such a way that at one point when I was wandering around alone, I lost track of what floor I was on, where I was, I just knew that I was in a forest, trying to find the way out to find Macbeth again.

I will say here that while the experience on the whole isn't scary, at one point, I was standing in a ballroom and the next thing I know, the trees are moving in around me. Right. The trees were moving in around me and it was too dark to see how. Terrifying...and amazing.
Everything about this show was perfect. If I had the money, I'd go again to find what all I missed and go down the rabbit hole again. As a kid you make-believe that you are in a different world and that movies and books come to life. The Harry Potter part of Universal Studios is meant to give people that feeling. But I can tell you that last night, I was actually a part of Macbeth, the world around him and I've interacted with the characters, I was in a different world and I have the mask still to prove it.

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