An incredible feat of collaboration and vision. Sleep No More the immersive interactive dance theater, set at the fictional McKendrick hotel in Manhattan’s west side, is an all sensory experience, inviting boldness, daring and a curious spirit. Five floors through which to wonder, laden with intricate details, each eyeful; a thoughtful composition. Your journey begins in the rich red bar filled with fabulous people offering you fabulous drinks darling. You’ve been given a card at the door and they’ll call you in by number and face. Whilst being held captive in the elevator, they will more than encourage you to have a solo adventure, to do whatever you want, follow your instinct, impulse and desires darlings. In a mask and part of a mass; collectively you are the cloud of roving voyeurs, ghosts in the castle chasing the players in the night. The masks make the circle complete, helping you feel anonymous and helping the actors see you as part of the show. You are invited to open doors, drawers, peek into dark corners and strange places. You can follow the crowd, a particular performer or just wait long enough in a certain room of your liking and the show will certainly find it’s way to you.
The story and choreography are based on Shakespeare’s MacBeth. Someone with an intimate knowledge of the play would of course glean more of from the movements and symbolic objects one encounters, as one who does not have prior experience with the play I was continually mystified and captivated. I was so impressed with the attention to detail. How many artists were put to work? How many visions were molded into this one breathing installation? I chose not follow the crowd of masks chasing dancers from one room to another, I chose to follow my intuition. I let my eyes fall on something and inspected it, sat with it. I let the haunting music guide me. I was fortunate enough to find myself to the ballroom just as the forest was being rolled onto the dance floor. The antique ballroom with parquet wood floors, grand dining table, and balcony views all around slowly became a forest as dancers in the shadows of trees on wheels glided them into place. As the dance continued the lights and music changed, climaxing in the corner; a man nearly drowned in trees and strobe light.
The hotel contains a floor of taxidermy, and storage units leading to a surly place for pool and bar made of cardboard boxes. A hotel reception desk, various salt sculptures and precarious forks lead you to the ballroom. Religious themes and bedrooms rule another floor, and I can’t remember which floor held the barroom where the witches went wild. One floor is dedicated to mental health, filled with eerie blue light, a room of bathtubs, and labyrinth of bare trees. I made my way through this barren forest and found the nurses station; a tree house where they do needlepoint. A guard in a black mask makes sure you don’t open the door but there are plenty of holes for peeking. Peeking is encouraged after all darlings, and I could almost read needlepoint.
I know a couple who have been to see Sleep No More seven times, that’s fourteen hundred dollars for the two of them. I thought, wow they are rich and maybe obsessed? Now I understand, there is so much to take in, so much to experience. If I had the money I would return again and again. Sleep No More is never over, you can never see it all, and it will always leave you wanting more.
By Greta Jane Pedersen