The odd thing about this incredible theatrical extravaganza, for lack of a better description, is that after I saw Sleep No More, I slept for 13 hours. Coincidence? I don’t think so. As a member of the over AARP eligible set, sleep is something that does not come in large clumps anymore, on the contrary. Now I relish six hours here and there coupled with a few one or two hour naps. But I am totally digressing from what was an exhausting, mind-altering experience called Sleep No More. My sister and I had been talking about seeing the show every since my two friends–whom I trust emphatically–were raving. Problem was it was like getting tickets to The Normal Heart, not easy. The gods took pity and a window of opportunity appeared and off we went on Saturday night. At arrival, you are given an Eyes Wide Shut mask and all the guests become anonymous. Leading up to the show, my sister, who is usually fearless, had been reading up on Sleep No More and kept saying, “You better not leave my side for one minute, this sounds very scary.” As we entered the pitch black foyer, she clutched my arm tightly and when we got into the elevator and rode up one flight, the host of the evening opened the elevator door, motioned for her to walk, then quickly slammed the door shut. He turned to me and said with an all-knowing, devilish grin, “It is much better when you travel solo”. All I could hear in the distance, echoing from the dark was my sister screaming, “Fotz”.
From that point on, the experience is extremely personal, beyond exhilarating and I could not imagine lugging someone else around as you meander through a brilliant series of sets and rooms that comprise the legendary McKittrick Hotel. The cast is so attractive, in a 1930’s, RKO Pictures, kind of way. England’s Punchdrunk Theater Company has created a one-of-a-kind experience that engages all your senses by creating a mysterious, sensual world that allows, invites, in fact, demands that you to go as far into their world as you dare. It is hard to describe what you are about to go through. Is it a Who Done It? meets Dance Theater meets Clue meets Voyeurism of the highest order? Who knows. Must we label everything? I do know that it is amazing. Not even the most seasoned reviewers can really tell you what to expect, except, of course, the unexpected.
Do what you can to see Sleep No More. It will leave you speechless and stay with you for a while. It will even enter your subconscious while you are sleeping as to continue the experience, which in hindsight, is so incredibly dreamlike and perhaps why I slept for so long.