Pages

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My experience at Sleep No More, NYC





You begin by getting a playing card (ours was an Ace) and being ushered upstairs.  Upon walking through a dark maze of black lit only by candles, we found our way to the bar, which was like a speakeasy of the 1930s.  Leopold kissed my hand upon entering and welcomed me.  I found a table with absinthe, which I purchased.  I was disappointed that such a beautiful drink tasted like black licorice.  My friend Jimmy and I each got one and made our way to a table with a booth in the corner, anticipating a bit of a wait for our friends.  Just moment later, we were told by Leopold that our card was being called, so we texted our friends that we'd  be inside and made our way through the doors.  We were handed our masks and instructed to put them on and not speak for the remainder of the evening.





We crowded in a small area and were told the few rules involved.  An elevator door opened and we all stepped in.  The gentleman manning the elevator explained further the rules.  He then let off a few people onto each floor, letting us off at the one with the Macbeths.

Everyone else went left, so Jimmy and I went right.  It was a cemetery, dark and covered with small crosses.  There was an empty bassinet as well, with only pillow in it.  We headed through a curtain to find a sculpture garden, with lose stones throughout.  As I walked through I saw some people through a window and went straight up to it.  The couple giggled and the woman (Lady Macbeth) left in the opposite direction, but the man (Macbeth) stayed to gather some stones.  After a spell, Jimmy and I went into the room they had been in and found a bathtub of warm water, a bed, many chests and trunks, and a letter from Macbeth to "his love."  

Macbeth came in, washed his hands in the bathtub, which Jimmy and I then did too, and left.  We followed him up the stairs and into a hallway.  He disappeared and I wandered through the many stores they had.  In one room was a woman sitting quietly drinking tea.  As I began to leave, a man ran by the room so I followed.  He ran into a room covered with pictures of decaying bodies and pulled a medicine dropper from his neck, panicking and seeming to throw up.  The tea woman then came in and they had an altercation about a photograph of a woman whom the tea woman clearly loved.

They kept comparing the photos and finally they kissed, which seemed to be confusing for both of them.  He searched her neck, apparently trying to see if she too had a medicine dropper in it.  Finally they made their way out of the room and kept trying to part but feeling compelled to kiss again.  The tea woman then left quickly and I followed her.  She made her way to a small bar and tried to drink when a drunken man, with blood on his face made his way into the room, pointed at her and pointed for her to leave.  She got up and backed away, shrinking off.  He did weird dances on a pool table and I followed her out.  She slinked through crates and boxes, making her way through a small curtain and into a room with scissors everywhere.

She slowly got out a Bible, scissors and some kind of small black balls.  She pulled out a locket, cut a Bible verse and put it into the locket.  She then pulled off a long red thread and strung the locket, putting it in her purse.  She quickly walked through another door, which I followed and made her way back through the room where she had been drinking tea.  She came to a locked door and several people began to follow us.  She paused, turned to me and we looked into each others' eyes for several seconds, she smiled slightly, took my hand and pulled me into the room, locking it behind us.

In the room was a vanity, a dresser, a small doll, a standing wardrobe and many old photos.  I looked around for a moment, unsure what I should do and I glanced back to her.  She was watching me in the mirror and with a slight tilt of her head asked me to come to her and read a Bible verse.  It was about not falling in love with sinful men.  I nodded and she smiled.  She then began to recite a monologue from the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rebecca, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change had come upon it. Nature had come into her own again and little by little had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers, on and on the poor thread that had once been our drive. And finally, there was Manderley, Manderley, secretive and silent."

I kept eye contact with her and allowed her to hold my hands.  She smiled and said, "I have something for you."  She walked to the wardrobe and opened it.  She paused, turned around and slowly took off my mask.  She smiled, pulled out a locket like the one I'd watched her make, and put it on me.  She then continued with the monologue as she pulled us both into the wardrobe, "Time could not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls. Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came from the windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon and hovered an instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it. I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of a past about its staring walls. We can never go back to Manderley again."




The last sentence was whispered into my ear.  She pulled the locket into her hand and placed it in mine.  "Wear my locket, it will protect you," she said before kissing my cheek, replacing my mask and shoving me the opposite way out of the wardrobe.  I found myself inside a crematorium furnace, which opened to a morgue.  I came through that and made my way back to the walkway where I found two men fighting.  As they departed, I started to follow one of them, but saw a long hallway that led elsewhere.  Seeking adventure, I made my way through and around.  I came into a wild orgy with a bald woman, a sequined woman, a bleeding man and a naked man with a boar's head.

During the orgy of the witches, the bald woman, though not pregnant, stands stop a basin and gives birth to a premature, bloody baby.  The sequined woman takes the baby and nurses it while the bald woman and one of the men make out.  She then takes the baby and nurses it while making out with the sequined woman.  The man takes the baby and places it in the basin, as the women go down on each other.  Suddenly, as if waking from a fog, everyone comes to realize where they are and looks at each other with freight.  The man looks down at the now dead baby and begins to cry, running away.  I followed him, but he was too fast and disappeared.

In the 3 hours I spent roaming around this hotel, I saw so many more things it would be impossible to relay them in order.  While entering a bar, I saw the man who writhed on the pool table singing Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is?.  He then convulsed and collapsed.  He got up and staggered to a hotel check-in desk.  He took a tissue to blow his nose and then took a clean one, offering it to someone in the crowd.  I remembered reading that you should take the tissue, so I stepped out and took it.  He pulled me to him, wiped his eyes with the tissue and then pressed it into my hand and guided me through the crowd.  We passed the tea woman and they looked at each other for a long moment.  He took me past the bar where he had been singing and into a phone booth.  He closed us in with the curtain and held my face tightly, staring into my eyes.  He stroked down my collarbone and then collapsed, convulsing.  I held his shoulder, unsure if I should leave, when he suddenly stood and put a gold leaf on a red string around my neck.  He held my face again and stared into my eyes, for a long moment.  Then he too kissed my cheek and was gone.




In another section I watched a doctor stitching a teddy bear back together and then followed him as he went past the infirmary and into a room with headless dolls handing all around.  He placed the bear in a bassinet and started to rock it.  Two nurses came in and they all watched the bear rocking.  Then suddenly as if waking from a fog, they all began to look around, fight their way out of the dolls and I followed the man as he did acrobatic dance moves while convulsing in a hallway.  

In yet another, a pregnant woman (Lady Macduff) comes to Macbeth and then runs upon seeing him.  She begins to pack her suitcase quickly, but Macbeth follows and kills her.  Her husband finds her just after and carries her to the couch, which if you're lucky you are not sitting on as he does so.

There is a taxidermist, an apothecary (you can eat the candy), a ballroom, dozens of bathtubs and several showers.  There is an uber creepy black rod-iron door you can walk through that leads just to rooms with creepy stuff in them.  I made my way in there alone and began to panic a little.  I didn't stay long.

There a workers with black masks there to help you if you need it, which made most of it not terribly scary.  Anytime I was unsure of where I was or what was happening I would just locate the guide and knew I was safe.  

To say I enjoyed it is the understatement of the century.  This was, without a doubt, the best, most amazing experience I think a theater lover could ever have.  It's tangible, interactive, curious, mystical and so well acted it's amazing.  You truly feel like you are not there, and yet somehow can watch at your leisure up-close and personal as these people go about their lives.  The fact that you can't speak lends to an amazing display of non-verbal communication as well.

As the evening was coming to a close, I was in the apothecary store and one of the actors came in, holding his hand out to me. I quickly took it and he guided me to the ballroom for the last scene.  The table was set up like the last supper and the Macbeths come in after a fight.  He is bloody and she wants to know "why my lord".  They rise and while under the witches spell, Macbeth is placed in a noose.  He comes out of his spell just in time to realize what is happening, and the chair under him is yanked away as he is hanged.

Thus concludes the evening of merriment.




3 comments:

  1. Two hours left!! Get VIP tix, hotel and dinner.
    http://www.charitybuzz.com/categories/26/catalog_items/318420
    (In case you or fans are interested.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your experience with Agnes Naismith, the bible verse, and the locket echoes mine. Agnes took my mask off of me, pulled me into the wardrobe/closet, closed the door behind us, and delivered the entire monologue with her cheek against mine, in the dark. By the time she shoved me through the back door I was so buzzed from the entire experience that I couldn't remember the words, nor remember when exactly she had put my mask back on me. Thank you for blogging the reference so that I could recapture it! Now I can sleep...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I just remembered the word "Mandalay" and was able to find it that way. So glad I could help, I know it would have driven me mad if I couldn't come up with it. Wasn't that the coolest thing you've ever gotten to do???

      Delete