Following an amazing dinner at Salinas with the aroma of fresh cut roses still in our lungs, we walked several blocks down to the McKittrick Hotel, home of the Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. It’s an immersive play adaptation loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth but transported into the 1930s era.
The title “Sleep no more!” is a line from Act II Sc. II lines 49-54, whereby sleep is celebrated and personified as an innocent, that which restores, repairs, and nourishes the damage that is done during the day. Macbeth can’t sleep, as he has also murdered this innocent in his pursuit of power, and you as a guest in this realm get to share in this sleepless adventure.
The “hotel” is located in a giant warehouse with a tiny unassuming sign. The location is easy to miss, except for the giant bouncers guarding its doors. After waiting briefly in line, we walked through the dimly lit building, down many dark hallways until arriving at your first destination, a beautiful intimate speakeasy with walls cloaked in red velvet.
This is the starting point before entering into this fictional world. We were given white masks and a playing card with the instructions that after passing through the elevator to the hotel”set” we were to remain silent at all times, speaking breaks could be taken but only by finding yourself back to the speakeasy for which we started. The playing card splits you up into separate entry groups when entering into the play, further trying to randomize you away from staying with your friends.
The elevator operator explained that this journey was best explored as a singular experience and then snatched a woman from her boyfriend and tossed her out of the elevator at our first stop. About to close the door and head further downward, the woman pleaded nervously “Not now!” latched back onto her man’s arm refusing to be separated. A braver volunteer took her place and stepped out the elevator door alone.
We ended up stopping and all getting out one floor above. Once we were in we could freely roam around 5 hauntingly decorated floors, allowing us to fulfill our voyeristic fantasies by following actors (the only people who didn’t have masks on) around as they sung, danced, fought, and murdered around us. Indeed this was a place where no sleep or innocence was to be had. You can touch all the props and sit wherever you like, and the actors will work around you. This immersive show was unlike any experience I’ve had the joy of partaking in.
Won’t go into any spoiler details, but when we finally came out for air it was already 2am. We gabbed over craft cocktails about our varied experiences, as a beautiful soul performed a delicious jazzy rendition of Ducktales. My friend Brian would keep repeating over and over into the night that he saw “Boobies!” *sigh*
After another round of drinks, another fantastic band came on where the lead singer was so passionate about the music that he showed us his vinegar strokes as he really started jamming. While I wanted to stay for the music, that face and the fatigue reiterated that it was already 3:30am and we needed to head back to the hotel.
I’ve been twice now, and each time have had a different experience in the confines of the same story. The sets are still gorgeous and I haven’t fully experienced all the scenes. Obviously I loved it, having gone more than once and maybe someday I’ll go again.