Spoiler Alert: if you plan to see the immersive theatrical production of Sleep No More and prefer a non-informed experience, check back to the blog in a couple of days.

Sleep No More

“You are not allowed to speak,” she demanded, then stopped on an undisclosed floor and pushed one  from our masked group out of the darkened elevator into yet more darkness. As the remainder of us listened to the elevator door snap shut, we tried to communicate through our eyes, the only form of expression we could manage wearing the ashen-white V for Vendetta patterned mask. As soon as the elevator door opened again, we were herded out and encouraged to explore on our own. Penny and I wandered wordlessly into a room equipped with a 20th Century Dental Chair in the middle of the room. I laid down compulsively on the chair. Penny started handing me rusty dental tools from the adjoining professional table. Another friend, not recognizing Penny and me, peered into our room and made fast tracks to another space where the guests weren’t weirdly lounging on decrepit medical furniture and fondling periodontal probes. Did it look like an electric chair to her? Remind her of having her teeth drilled? Only questions. No answers.

And so it went for the next three hours. Non-linear scenes from Macbeth acted out on each floor of the tricked-out McKittrick Hotel. No two experiences the same. Dramatic lighting creating intriguing shadows. Evocative music piped into each space. Visceral energy palpable. Brisk air drifting through the forested room, branches on either side of the mazed path. The experience reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, yet completely unique. Separated by choice and design from any cliques, the scenes unfolded on each floor. Voyeuring from one darkened space to the next, never knowing whether I would happen again upon a room lined with headless cupie dolls suspended from the ceiling above an old, uninhabited crib. If the crib had been large enough, I may have crawled into it.

A wall lined with dusty apothecary jars oddly filled with hard candy on shelves in a lonely soda shop. (“Yes, I ate a lemon drop.” “You ATE the candy?” “Of course.”) Penny and I shared the same experience, “If I could have licked the walls, I would have,” we agreed. The haunting lady in the elevator had promised after all: “Fortune favors the bold.” You didn’t have to tell us twice. I opened desk drawers in the private dick’s office. I fumbled through antique books in the office lined with hay and taxidermic boar heads. I studied the patient hair samples pinned to paper I greedily found in the multi-drawer laboratory cabinet. I grabbed dirt and let it fall between my fingers next to the make-shift graves in the room decked out as a cemetery. In a macabre laundry area, I slipped on one of the men’s dress shirt’s hanging from the clothes line. One of the black-masked peace keepers admonished me an hour later: “Shirt, please!” It seems I am forever being scolded for one infraction or another. I suppose I’m the type that asks forgiveness instead of permission. God help me with three children absorbing my example…