Still it cried ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house: ‘Glamis hath murder’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more,—Macbeth shall sleep no more!
I’ll state the obvious and say that New York City is pricey. That means I’ll typically do an expensive thing once, and then move on to the next thing on the to-do list. It’s a nice methodical way to continually choose to experience more of what the city has to offer. Sleep No More though is one of my exceptions. Trust me – after you go, you’re spoiled for immersive theater thereafter.
I just can’t stop going back. Actually, T and I can’t stop going back together. December 2013 was our last visit – until last week, when we went back for a fifth time. Every time you go, it’s a different show. Sure, the same scenes are running in the same sequence – but you are the variable. As a guest, you get to choose how you maneuver among the characters throughout the massive six floor set.
What is it exactly? The New York Times perhaps summarizes it best – “In many ways “Sleep No More” is a dance in the guise of a theater piece.” It’s immersive theater that from experience I say stands out as the best out of other local productions that come close to the realm of comparison – Queen of the Night, Then She Fell, and Speakeasy Dollhouse. It’s Macbeth meets Rebecca meets film noir. It’s a production that manages to say so much with so many of its characters actually saying so little. It is though an experience that may not be well-suited for some, so definitely wise to read a bit more before opting in for the adventure.
The set itself is a converted warehouse. Guests can interact with almost all of the elements within the immersive experience. Find something interesting? Leaf through the book or open a drawer. Find the room with all of the candy jars? Why yes, you can have a sweet snack if you so desire.
We can never go back to Manderley again. That much is certain. But sometimes, in my dreams, I do go back to the strange days of my life which began for me in the south of France…
Beyond the scenes, there are also a number of characters who have personal scenes prepped. One-on-ones are nuanced, and can be truly solo or limited to a small group of people. You can’t force those true 1:1s, and I think those are harder to feel out for a first time attendee. It’s all about luck of where you’re standing, your body language, and even the way they sense you are interacting with their performance as to whether one of these is in the cards for you. I’ve had the same 1:1 experience twice now, with two different actresses in the role. This past time, I even carried around a prop a bit for an actor as he completed his scene. Expect the unexpected. Be responsive if a character interacts with you, and you’ll find you’re often rewarded.
The show runs for three hours, and concludes around 10PM. After the show, you’ll want to plan to hang around a bit to enjoy the entertainment. There’s typically a couple of different performers at the Manderlay Bar. The first tends to be a 1930s era nod to continue Sleep No More’s vibe, though subsequent performers may then mix it up a bit.
Before you head to the show (or if you’ve been and are now feeling a bit nostalgic), you can check out the soundtrack in the below playlist.
Not quite up for Sleep No More, but like the idea of immersive Macbeth? Check out this upcoming version from FoxWolf Productions at NY Distilling Company. At $37.92 a ticket, it’s a steal!
- Behind a White Mask
- Losing Sleep with the Superfans of “Sleep No More”
- Down the Rabbit Hole: The Obsessive Fans of Sleep No More
- McKittrick Hotel Unofficial Guide
- Innovation in arts and culture #4: Punchdrunk – Sleep No More
- A Guinea Pig’s Night at the Theater
- Sleep No More: What It’s Like Inside the World’s Most Interactive Play