Sleep No More

Six of us found ourselves in a converted warehouse which the new owners somewhat grandiosely styled as the McKittrick Hotel on Tuesday evening, for an interactive theatre performance of Sleep No More, loosely based off that famous bard’s play, Macbeth.

Even after we’d heard rave reviews from friends who had been, some multiple times, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

Inside the building, we were directed towards an almost pitch black maze of corridors that we nervously felt our way through before we found ourselves in a lounge richly draped with deep red wallpapers and hosts who urged us to lubricate for the evening ahead with a stiff drink. We happily complied, then followed the line of people towards a dimly lit corridor, where we each received a clay mask we had to don for the rest of the evening, along with the instructions to turn off all electronic devices and stay silent. One by one, we trooped towards the stairs where upon another host whispered our destination to us. I was directed up the stairs while Angela behind me went down. Just like that, our little group was broken up.

I went up a single flight of stairs, turned into the first set of rooms on my right, and found myself in a graveyard in the deep of night. Overhead, there was the sounds of crickets chirping, and  howling wind, but otherwise it was silent. My eyes strained to adjust in the gloom, and I saw a few other silent souls tiptoeing around, their faces hidden behind the white masks. It was surreal to say the least.

I wandered around for a little on my own, peering at the inscriptions on the tombstones and wondering where I should go, when all of a sudden, something grabbed my arm.

It turned out to be just Jeff. A little relieved, we moved through that silent graveyard together, and abruptly found ourselves in someone’s private chambers. There was an old clawed foot tub in the middle of the room, in which a naked lady sat soaking as she silently read a letter she held clutched in her hands.

As we watched, along with other masked people, she rose dripping from the tub and pulled on a black slip. Still silent, she now broke into smiles as she danced her way around the room, seemingly unaware of the throng of masks that surged like a school of tuna around then away from her.

We stared in rapt fascination at her mesmerizing dance, when she suddenly broke off and ran straight into the arms of a bearded man who had just strode into the room. We masked vouyers watched as they fell into each other in urgent heat, first on that tub, then the king-sized bed in the corner of the room, and finally to the dresser on the other corner. Passions finally abated, now a new tension seemed to rise between them, as the lady threw off her slip and pulled on a glittering black gown. The couple struggled together now, anger and frustration on both their faces until the man’s face relaxed and his shoulders slumped. The woman pulled him into a fierce embrace, and another long smothering kiss, before she turned and stalked out of the room, a half dozen masks trailing hurriedly in her wake.

We stayed with the man, and followed him out of the chambers and into the night, into the dark gardens where he paced agitatedly. When he stalked off towards the exits and a flight of stairs though, we lost him in the sea of masks.

The both of us then wandered up another flight of stairs, and found ourselves in what had to be an insane asylum, one filled with rickety beds, straight jackets, and and screams overhead. A single nurse moved about those empty beds, her face furrowed in worry as she cradled an apron full of rocks. We watched her bring those rocks to an old tub, by which she knelt and started vigorously rubbing the rocks with the water in the tub.

Then overhead, bells tolled, ominously, urgently. Startled, we ran back down the flights of stairs, following the flow of masks until we reached a room with a single canopy bed. Two unmasked men pushed past us, their faces contorted in horror as they stared at the bloody, unmoving body on the bed.

Another two men appeared, and together, the four of them silently carried the body from the bed.

We didn’t follow to see where they went with the body, but wandered our way into a cavernous hall, where a fully laden banquet table sat on one end. The hall was empty, and dark, but as we moved to leave, a couple walked in, and began an elaborate waltz together. After, they both ascended to the banquet table, at which now sat a host of other guests. The couple we had earlier spied arrived then too, though their fine evening wear were now splattered with blood. Everyone began to eat and drink, in silent cheer, until a bloodied face joined the rest of the group. The party quickly disintegrated after that. In the chaos, Jeff and I exited the hall, in search of other strange and silent happenings.

Over the next couple hours, we explored the different rooms in that strange hotel, and chanced upon different groups of people singing, drinking, gambling, as well as a couple more murders. The first, we found a man weeping over the still body of a heavily pregnant woman on a couch; when he saw me, he rose with the body in his arms and walked straight to me, as if to hand her off to me. I moved to carry her, and as we stood with our faces inches apart and both our hands supporting the weight of the woman, the man leaned in and brokenly croaked into my ear, “All my babes, my pretty babes.”

All too soon it seemed, when rousing music overhead led us all streaming back to the great hall, where we watched as the bearded man was led by the broken man we had seen to a noose. The latter slipped the noose over the bearded man’s neck, and as we all stared, kicked the chair from which he stood, so that he was flung forward, and dangled limply above the heads of the masked crowd. Bells pealed again, and finally the hall was bathed in light.

It was, the six of us agreed after we had linked back up outside the building, a really neat experience. I liked that we had a chance to catch some of the earlier scenes of the play later in the evening since the action played in a loop. In this way, we managed to see Macbeth desperately trying to scrub the blood from his naked body, after we had already seen the dead body of Duncan. We also saw Macbeth’s murder of Banquo after the latter appeared as a ghost in the banquet scene. A&G, who had managed to stick together, said their favorite scene was v the naked orgy of the witches to techno rave music. Too bad we missed that!

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