Let me first say that this is an experience that everyone should have. Sleep No More is an absolutely immersive and visceral experience. The lack of dialogue, when replaced by both music and dance, institutes an emotional and guttural reaction within the audience. There has to be a way to describe this theatrical artistic event, but nothing comes to mind. I will instead recount the events that I experienced. So warning, spoilers are afoot.
I approached the McKittrick Hotel, and was swiftly ushered inside. I received my card and walked down a long pitch-black hallway, filled with winding turns and no sign of an end. Out the other end there was the Mandeleray Bar. We were in the 1930’s now. The booze was flowing and the atmosphere was lush.
We got called to the elevator area, where we donned our masks and took a vow of silence. We were warned that fortune favors the bold. As we all entered the elevator, the bellhop gave us a few more rules for our evening. The elevator door opened, I stepped off first. I turn around to see no one is following me; the bellhop stuck out his arm and closed the elevator door, leaving me alone. Instantly my heart started pounding, I was alone in a maze of this other world. I meandered through the level. Passing through the sanitarium, the hospital like area, and the forest up to the witches hut. I found my way to the darkened street. There I waltzed into the photography dark room where, after an actor (Malcolm) and actress got into an altercation over a photograph, Malcolm pulled me into a secret room where he opened up a chest with eggs. He took off my mask, an almost liberating experience, making me less an observer and made me feel like a part of this crazy mess. He placed and egg in my hand, and then smashed it into my palm. It was filled with dirt, which the actor continued to rummage through the dirt, pressing and rubbing it into my hand. Then he started convulsing and coughing. He coughed up a feather and placed it into my hand. He promptly pinned me against a wall. He held a magnifying glass to my face, and asked if I saw the signs as well. He began to recite a line from Macbeth, “Last Tuesday a falcon was murdered…” That is all I can remember. He turned the lights off, kissed me on the neck and left the room.
The rest of the events of my stay at the McKittrick Hotel had no sense of time or order to them, I don’t know when I saw them in relation to the story or the amount of time there. I watched as the tailor found bible passages sewn into his pants, I watched a woman steal money from the tailor. I watched that same woman be comforted by Hectate. The sexy witch pulled me into the candy shop and fed me candies then lead me towards the cardboard bar. There she entered into a dance with the bartender. It was sensual, passionate, and emotional. I watched a card game take place between three guys, and then it ends when Macbeth kills Banquo. I ended up at the end of the hour, with all of the characters at the table in the ballroom for the banquet.
After it was over, I quickly followed the nurse after the scene. She went up flights of stairwells, and I watched as she set up, and restarted her story line again. I could tell she knew I was following her, for we made deep eye contact numerous times. I watched as she undressed Lady Macbeth, took her clothes, folded them and placed them away, I followed her as she was washed pajamas and set them to dry. As she tried wash blood off her hands, unsuccessfully, she performed a frantic dance in a window before dropping to the other side. I jumped through the window and ran after her as she made off through the forest, towards the hut. She was pulled inside the hut by the other nurse or orderly. They shared a brief exchange, in which the nurse I had been following seemed almost trepidatious and cautious. She then got up, pointing to me, and took my hand. She lead me across the floor to the therapists room, where she pulled me in, closing the door behind her. She took my mask off, and sat me on the bed. As we maintained an intimate eye contact as she laid me down and tucked me into the bed with a wool blanket. The music in the room was overcome with heartbeats that grew more and more rapid; as she came closer and closer to kissing me night, then boom. A light switches on illuminating some writing on the wall about the death of Duncan. The nurse lets out a shrill scream and starts coughing uncontrollably. She eventually coughs up a nail and then demands that I leave. Before I do, she cautions me that I must not tell anyone what had occurred. I was now left in the middle of the hospital hallway. I wandered around, and then saw the nurse leave the therapists room. She walked into another room, so I followed her. The room had a display in it that was filled with nails. She took a bunch out and began to line them up, organizing them; eventually they spelt out immortal. She freaked out, slamming the nails away. She ran into another room, where she performed a dance onto of a hospital table.
I walked away and stumbled upon a scene where three men were examining the dead King in his bed, he was covered in feathers and they carried him out as if he was on the cross. I wandered back down to the street where I found the three witches, who led a group towards the bar. Hectate cackled, as strobe lights and laser lights took over the room. Bumping rave music took over the room. They danced and the clothes came off. There was a bloody baby, a tree, a ram head and a threesome visible through the flashes of light. A pure sensory overload, I could not even process what was occurring until after it had ended. Well it ended, and all of the actors tore off in their own directions. I followed the male witch as he nakedly stumbled around, until he fell into a bathroom and shower. He laid on the floor in the fetal position trying to wash the blood off of his body. He struggled, barely able to stand, but managed to turn the water off. He outstretched his hand, begging for a towel, which I handed to him. He struggled putting his underwear and socks on, then threw pants into my hands. I had to figure out how to put the pants and suspenders on him. I helped him stand up, watching as he combed his hair. He pointed me towards a shirt on a hanger, I continued to put the shirt on him, and help him out. He slumped onto me, and continued to lead us towards the ballroom. He was majorly unable to stand on his on, I found myself keeping both the witch and myself up. We fumbled our way down stairwells and into the ballroom. He held me in a long embrace before he parted ways and climbed the stage.
I watched the finale unfold before my eyes. A slow motion dinner that turned from celebratory to tense to passionate to angry to murderous. After it had ended, the swinging would serve as your final image of the show. I started to follow the crowd out, when my eyes met with the male witch one more time. He was standing, stiff as a board, while others moved past him and towards the exit. I cautiously approached him, and he slumped onto me. Both supporting each other, we walked towards the exit. We had just reached the exit, when everyone started taking his or her masks off. I motioned to take my mask off, but the witch forced me to keep it on my face. We reached the bar where we started our journey three long hours ago, and the male witch pinned me against a near by wall, tearing off my mask. He embraced me for a long while, as he whispered thank you to me. He let go of his grip and disappeared into the masses of people.
Just like that, my stay at the McKittrick Hotel was over. I met up with my guest and we headed for home as we recounted our stay, each of us having had completely different experiences. I missed entire floors and characters. I must go again, as soon as possible, to make sure that I can actually experience more things and begin to build the plot. After one stay I have no clue what the story is at all. I plan to check back into the hotel as so as I truly can, until then I shall Sleep No More.