Off-Broadway Closing: SLEEP NO MORE (Punchdrunk at McKittrick Hotel; Final Performance September 29, 2024)

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by Tony Frankel on June 11, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York


When this megahit closed during COVID, and then came roaring back, I wrote “No plague can kill a great show.” Now, having welcomed over two million visitors in thirteen years, Sleep No More, the site-specific, immersive experience that introduced an entirely new art form to — and forever changed — New York’s theatrical landscape, has announced its final performance. It will close on Sunday, September 29, 2024. This is your last chance to follow a spectral character down an ornate passage, and say, “What bloody man is that?”

Because of Sleep No More‘s popularity, The McKittrick Hotel quickly evolved into a multi-venue dining, nightlife, and entertainment destination, attracting adventurous patrons to its Manderley Bar, Club Car theater, rooftop garden restaurant, Gallow Green, and the Winter Lodge. It has also created events and showcased works from magic (At the Illusionist’s Table) to revues (Hypnotique– A Late Night Sultry Spectacle) to the National Theatre of Scotland  (The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart).

In a rare clash of film noir, performance art, an awesome murder mystery party, and Shakespeare, Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More is the ultimate voyeuristic thrill. Audience members don Venetian masks and explore the depths of the 1930s-style McKittrick Hotel in pursuit of the dubious characters of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who run amuck throughout. The painstakingly detailed set — which is the entire hotel — has you digging through suitcases, desk drawers, and bookshelves in a desperate, darkly gleeful search of any dirt you can find on your favorite social climbers, the Macbeths. The hunt goes on all night, interrupted by witches climbing up walls, the nuevo-royalty taking a quick bath to wash blood off their hands, and (if you’re in the right room) an occasional murder. The slo-mo dinner party in the gigantic banquet room is simply too cool.

Each of these major scenes is acted in silence, or should I say performed dance-style or even lip-synched (I accidentally came upon a man perfectly voicing Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” in a nightclub). So Shakespeare is not really in focus here — in fact, you get only whiffs of plot. Even if you are quick enough to pursue a character that intrigues you, it’s pretty difficult to discern exactly who you’re following — that doesn’t really become clear until the very end, if you make it that long (you can stay inside the hotel for up to three hours). And yet, it’s hard not to get swept into the chase.

The cast is highly engaging, and nimbly darts in and out of rooms, up and down stairs, all the while maintaining a mysterious air about them so that you simply can’t resist trying to follow. It’s more than challenging to name anyone in particular, but the witches are particularly exciting to watch; if you can figure out who they are, they’re especially worth the pursuit. Punchdrunk may not deal much with the depths of Macbeth in Sleep No More, but they’ve turned it into an even more visceral, exciting theatrical event than any other production of the Scottish Tragedy you are likely to see. It’s not to be missed. And when you’re done playing on four floors, you can relax watching a jazz band while you sip on cocktails.

photos by Robin Roemer , Stevan Keane and Umi Akiyoshi

Sleep No More
Punchdrunk Theatre Company
McKittrick Hotel, 530 W. 27th Street
final extension; closes on September 29, 2024
for tickets, call 866.811.4111 or visit Sleep No More
each performance has different arrival times

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