Sleep No More… or… The Cure to Your Common Insomnia?
Ok maybe I’m being a bit harsh. I am feeling slightly more noncomformist than usual this morning, but still, I have to say I wasn’t sold.
A few weeks ago, my friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to this “thing” he had heard about that was supposed to be amazing. I asked him for the link, read through the webpage which wasn’t very descriptive, and agreed to join him. I am always up for new experiences.
We bought tickets. As the day approached, I read a few reviews here and there. It sounded weird, but possibly fun. It was described as “an interactive performance experience where Shakespeare’s MacBeth meets Hitchcock”. Hmm… this could either bet painstakingly cheesy, or remarkably clever.
Monday April 4th came, and I headed to Chelsea to meet Tiny Narcissus (the alias to this specific friend) along with his friends for the performance. We had our hands stamped and were told to leave our bags and jackets at the coat check. We checked in and were given a playing card, then we proceeded to a 1920’s-esque lobby with bar, a stage, and small tables. I ordered a drink. At the risk of sounding like I have a problem, events like this are usually better enjoyed with a slight buzz.
A lady with a sparkly dress and a bad accent approached us and asked for people who had the “10” card to follow her. Half the group left. I waited for my card to be called, but after a bit I got anxious and asked a man, who I assumed worked there due to his attire, if my card had been called. He advised me to just walk into this other room and ignore the card. Me, Tiny Narcissus, and his friend walked into this cramped space where we were given masks and told not to take them off or speak during the whole experience. Then, an elevator door opened and we were ushered in.
The elevator started dropping us at different floors. Some solo, some couples, some in larger groups. I opted to abandon my friends and get off on the 4th floor and explore on my own. I had no expectations whatsoever, and I walked into this room that looked like a cemetery. It was kind of cool in a “I thought this was March, not October” kind of way. I kept walking and entered a room with a bathtub filled with what could’ve been piss or champagne, but most likely just water dyed with FD&C Yellow No. 5. A man approached the tub and started splashing his face with the water and then, without saying anything, walked out of the room. Most people followed him, my obsessive compulsive self walked the opposite direction to go explore the rest of the floor at the maison hantée. Nothing quite memorable.
I took the stairs to the 5th floor. This time, I found myself in a sort of mental asylum. It was certainly more creepy. One of the rooms featured an Asian nurse making precise cut outs out of pages of a book and decorating the walls with them. The whole place was very interactable, and you could touch and grab objects, lay on beds, sit on chairs, and, if adventurous, drink/eat the various beverages and morceaux laying around the room. I just smelled them.
Down two stories I entered a hallway that seemed to lead to a pseudo nightclub with flashing lights and loud music. I walked along the hallway and another “performance” broke. Two pugilists dressed in white shirts covered in blood and black pants ran, and screamed, and walked on walls, and hushed into a side room. People followed. Again, I explored on my own. I entered some kind of room where a man in a lab coat was writing with chalk on the walls. I decided to be interactive and erase what he was writing. People stared, he ignored. I stumbled into the “nightclub” and saw a naked man wearing a taxidermy bull head dancing on top of tables, two girls splashing each other with blood, and a plastic baby doll (covered in “blood” obviously) being “offered” in what seemed like a sacrificial ritual/lion king opening sequence. Then the actors walked away and all went back to normal.
Off to the 2nd and last of floors. I first passed through a hotel lobby. The cutest actor I’d seen so far was there, dressed as a bell man. I kept following him around the room. He had a shot of brown liquid behind the front desk. I stared hoping he would offer some. He ignored me and continued his alleged duties. I left the room to enter a massive, two story theatre with pine trees in the back and a stage where all the actors were gathered around a table toasting and engaging in lascivious acts. I watched. A minute or so later, they all stopped their lust, stood up, and went their way. So did I.
I somehow ended back at the initial lobby where I ran into another friend who wasn’t with us. Cellphone reception was non existent inside the venue, so I opted to grab another drink and wait for the rest of my entourage. I made small talk with a guy who had a completely different experience from mine. I decided I would have another drink, refuel my buzz, and go back in and this time follow a specific actor.
Back in the hotel lobby, I tried following the bell man, but soon realized he didn’t leave the room. Then, the same guy with the bull head, except fully dressed and without a mask, walked in, had a sexy fight with the bell man, and incited my curiosity to follow him and see when he ends up naked. *BTW I knew he was the naked minotaur because he was the only black actor in the whole company*
To be honest, it wasn’t very exciting walking back. It was also kind of hectic trying to follow the actor. People would get in the way, and he moved quick. In one room, he got himself in another fight and somehow ended in a tiny crate cupboard contraption. I tried to open the doors but he held them securely from inside. He jumped back out, continue to fight and proceeded to other rooms. Sure enough, we ended at the room with the flashing lights and eastern european music. He got naked, did his thing, and then ran away. I didn’t see him again, and since I was somewhat bored and hungry, I headed for the exit.
I met my friends who were exceedingly amused by the whole experience. I tried to act complacent and didn’t offer much of my own jaded commentary. We were going to leave when one of the ushers mentioned there was going to be a grand finally inside and that we should put on our masks and head back to the theatre. We did. Same dinner table scene, and at the end someone was hung from a noose. Big finally. Still not impressed.
We walked out and managed to retrieve our coats in a matter of seconds. The whole show might’ve been somewhat gimmicky, I definitely have to give props to the actors, other than the hanging scene and the night club, they were exceptional thespians… but getting my coat in no time after a crowded event in New York City, now that I’m really impressed with!