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Sleep No More

2011 May 3

A couple of weeks ago, Joe and I went to see Sleep No More, a performance that I’m not quite sure how to describe here. Produced by a London theater company, PunchDrunk, the “show” is a loose interpretation of Shakespeare’s shortest and bloodiest play, MacBeth. I put “show” in quotation marks though, because it’s nothing like any play I’d ever seen before–in fact, I think I’d call it an “experience” rather than a performance.

MacBeth and Lady MacBeth (via Art Observed)

The production has taken up residence in an abandoned building on West 27th St. Billed as the McKittrick Hotel, the set is actually an astounding 100 rooms, spanning 5 floors. Each part of the set is decorated in incredible detail, with props you can pick up and inspect at will because the whole experience is entirely interactive. Upon entering, each guest is given a white mask to wear. This differentiates the spectators from the actors. After checking in, you’re let loose to wander the building. Everything is quiet, save for piped-in music over speakers. As you wander, you will run into various situations and scenes, without warning. During much of the show, you are physically running after actors as they move from room to room, up and down stairs, through dimly lit passageways and rooms. It’s difficult to keep track of the performers, but the mystery and suspense, as well as the adrenaline, heightens the overall experience.

The less I say, the better–especially if you’re planning on seeing it. They’ve extended their run several times, and the show is now running through the first week of June in New York. The show started in Boston last  year,  and I’m not sure if the show will continue to another city.

The experience got me thinking about archetypal stories, and how we continually interpret and modernize these stories. Really, these classic tales and plays are achieving a kind of immortality (especially Shakespeare). The painstaking costumes, sets, and details were mindblowing, and it’s a testament to how committed and creative people can be, even if it’s dealing with something as familiar as MacBeth.

What’s your favorite modern reinterpretation of a classic tale?

*hotel images via Scouting NY

2 Responses Post a comment
  1. May 3, 2011

    I’ve heard about this and think is sounds so intriguing! And also a little scary. It might be too close to a haunted house-like experience for me to actually go!

    Just stumbled across your blog today and I’ll definitely be stopping by again!

  2. May 3, 2011

    this sounds amazing! I don’t know if I’ll be able to check it out but what an interesting way to put on a Macbeth performance!

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