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‘Sleep No More’ Brings Immersion Theatre To Chelsea

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AP Photo/The O+M Co.,  Yaniv Schulman

AP Photo/The O+M Co., Yaniv Schulman

WCBS 880′s Jim Taylor shares his thoughts on Broadway and the 2011 Tony Awards. He will be blogging about his thoughts and reviews of the Great White Way leading up until the Tony Awards, and will be covering the awards for CBSNewYork.com as they air live on CBS on June 12.

Sleep no More.

Imagine Shakespeare meeting Hitchcock. More precisely: Macbeth, checking into the McKittrick Hotel (remember Vertigo? It’s the name of the San Francisco hotel where Jimmy Stewart is haunted by Kim Novak).

It is also the name of the venue in Chelsea where a haunting spectacle unfolds called Sleep No More. From the English troupe known as Punchdrunk, it’s immersion theatre. This means the audience is invited to play with the actors (or more correctly, the actors may play with the audience).

Once you check in, you’re handed a mask, told ‘not’ to talk, and taken on a mysterious elevator ride. One of our group is inexplicably removed without word from the elevator and left wandering in a dark hallway. Didn’t see him again for hours. We disembark into much darkness. And strange smells. And for the next three hours, we chase after partially clothed actors screaming and running down hallways and up staircases.

Five floors of this. In and out of room after room, painstakingly dressed up in references to Macbeth. All in an atmosphere somehow reminiscent of the 1930’s – the music, the fashion. And then there’s the occasional bit of the Shakespeare classic. As we stand there in her boudoir, looking like cast members of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, Lady Macbeth takes off her clothes and takes a bath in her own blood.

The best theatre of the evening though turned out to be a couple of audience members upon whom I stumbled in the dark. They couldn’t resist making out (heavily). It didn’t look easy what with those beak-like masks on. So they turned them around for better face access, only to be told by a figure clad in black suddenly appearing from the shadows they were breaking rules. Really.

By then I had to admit I was tiring from the endless chasing. The sweating behind the mask. Thankfully the bar served a good drink. And I kept my mask (which I don’t think I was supposed to do). At least I’m set for Halloween and Burning Man.

For more information and tickets to the show, click here.

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