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Photo: Taelar Pollmann ⋅ The Sentry

Sleep No More

After the struggle of writing last week’s column, this week I want to focus on one of my favorite things that is not related to photography: the immersive live performance experience known as Sleep No More in New York.  The story is a combination of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, tales from the Paisley witch trails in 1697, and influences from Alfred Hitchcock and noir films, all set inside the “McKittrick Hotel.”  This show was recommended to me by two former Phantoms from The Phantom of the Opera, which is oddly poetic since a mask is required to be worn throughout the three-hour show. 

After checking in, the guests of the hotel must find their way through a dark maze that opens into the Mandalay Bay Bar, 1930s.  Gin is passed around and lovely women with beaded feathers in their hair urge everyone to drink. A slow jazz tune fills the dimly lit space as groups of guests are allowed deeper into the hotel.  It is heavily encouraged to go through the experience alone with the warning that audience members might experience “intense psychological situations,” be exposed to fully nude cast members, and even be pulled from the group for a private interaction. 

I’ve checked into the McKittrick three times now and each visit has been a unique whirlwind of an evening and I crave going back like I crave water.  It would not be a proper trip to New York without an evening chasing Lady Macbeth around the five floors dedicated to this theatrical masterpiece. Each floor has a different theme, but they are all interwoven together as a beautiful dance. 

It is by far the best piece of theatre I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of and experiencing.  This is due to it satisfying a natural human fascination with being able to watch people without being arrested.  That is our role as the audience… we are the demons tormenting the damned souls of those who reside inside the McKittrick.  And I am ready to check back in.  

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