March 27, 2015

I ❤ NY: Sleep No More


      If you're a fan of Gossip Girl, you'll probably remember an episode entitled "The Big Sleep No More" in Season 5, Episode 7 where the characters went to a "show" wearing Venetian masks. However, this show was extremely unorthodox because one - everyone in the audience wore masks, two - you weren't allowed to talk (although of course the cast broke this rule), and three - you were allowed to walk around the set as the play progresses. This show was called "Sleep No More" and I've always wanted to go to the show, although at the time I was living in California! Finally this past weekend, I made a reservation at the McKittrick Hotel, where Sleep No More unfolds.


Sleep No More

"Completed in 1939, The McKittrick Hotel was intended to be New York City’s finest and most decadent luxury hotel of its time. Six weeks before opening, and two days after the outbreak of World War II, the legendary hotel was condemned and left locked, permanently sealed from the public. 

Until now…EMURSIVE has brought the Grande Dame back to life. Collaborating with London’s award-winning PUNCHDRUNK, the legendary space is reinvented with SLEEP NO MORE, presenting Shakespeare’s classic Scottish tragedy through the lens of suspenseful film noir. Audiences move freely through a transporting world at their own pace, choosing their own path through the story, immersed in the most unique theatrical experience in the history of New York."



Image Source: Time Out New York

Image Source: Vanity Fair

Review

      Sleep No More was unlike any event I've been to, but in a good way! I personally like haunted houses and exploring. I didn't really know what to expect except that I knew the hotel made you wear masks to ensure anonymity, and that being split up from my friends was a high possibility. I had read reviews that said the hotel's atmosphere was similar to the game "Bioshock" (which I have played and enjoyed) in that it was gothic and had a film noir aesthetic.

       When my group entered the elevator to go to the floors of the hotel, the bell hop split up the group by allowing only one person to get off the first floor, half of the group off the next floor, and the rest on the last floor. I was able to stay with my boyfriend throughout the hotel and explore together, but we were split up from my friends and those friends were also split apart eventually. Some of the "rooms" in the hotel are unconventional. There was a cemetery, a forest, a sanitorium, as well as more conventional rooms like a living room or parlor. The set was extremely detailed and the creepy atmosphere was pervasive. However, I have to stress this isn't a haunted house you attend on Halloween. Nobody will jump out to scare you, and there aren't performers who's purpose is to frighten you. Instead, you choose where you want to go and who you want to follow. 

      Since there is no speaking during the show, the performers act out the scenes through dance, body movements, and facial expressions. You can get a good idea of what's going on most of the time because there is also music coupled with the performance. Every audience member during my stay abided by the rules. All these elements combined, made you feel like (as one of my friends correctly described when we all met up post-show) you were a ghost. You are essentially just a viewer wandering throughout this world where the performers are the only ones who know their purpose. Although, sometimes the performers will actively break this 4th wall and interact with an audience member. When I met up with my friends after the show, we all chatted about what we saw and not surprisingly, each of our experiences was unique and different from one another. We all definitely agreed that it was a really unique experience.

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Tips & Notes About "Sleep No More"

  • Comfortable Shoes - Definitely wear comfortable shoes. McKittrick Hotel is over 100,000 square feet in size and you're most likely going to explore most if not all of it. It is dark in the hotel and there will be uneven terrain and even unconventional terrains to traverse over during your stay.

  • Venturing out Alone - Be prepared to be split up with your friends or significant other. As I mentioned, I was able to stay with my boyfriend during the entirety of the show, but we were split up from our other friends. However, it's all part of the experience and I was prepared for the fact that I might have ended up alone.

  • Macbeth - If you want to know the premise of the play, read up on Macbeth. The show is based on Shakespeare's play Macbeth, so if you want to see key scenes reenacted by the performers, I recommend following the actor and actress that play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth throughout the hotel.

  • FOMO - Try not to have FOMO (fear of missing out) because it's impossible to see everything during your stay. The hotel is three floors and everything is going on simultaneously with events culminating at the end of your three hour stay. You have to accept that you will miss out on certain events.

  • Timeliness - Get to your check in on time. My friends and I were running 15 minutes late into our 7:00 check in time, and there was already a long line. The hotel does not let everyone in at one time, but rather in intervals. If your reservations were at 7:00, then you have until 8:00 to check in. However, it's best to purchase a 7:00 check in because then you can experience the full three hours of the show from the beginning to the end.

  • Possible Nudity - As a disclaimer, there is nudity in the show!! I'm talking full frontal nudity. I was not aware of this before I went, but if you're easily offended, this might not be the type of show for you.

  • Be Nosy - All three floors are fair game in terms of exploration. You are allowed to touch things, open drawers, cabinets, and jars and even encouraged to do so! If you're courageous enough, you might even find some things that are edible...
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Concluding Remarks

       I hope I have been descriptive, but also cryptic enough so that your interest in Sleep No More is piqued! It's really a unique experience, and something that I think is worth trying at least once in your life. Tickets are $120 per person and are available on the Sleep No More website. There are also optional extras such as a preshow dinner reservation, or a "fast pass" that cost extra. 

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