– By Leena Sanzgiri –
“Did you get the plot? Because I definitely didn’t.” So the restaurant hostess greeted my plus-one and me, having spotted the masks we were carrying to dinner following our visit to Sleep No More. The mere fact that she immediately blurted out her own conclusively confused reaction to the show in lieu of expected pleasantries (Good evening! How are you? Do you have a reservation?) is wholly indicative of Sleep No More’s explosively intriguing experience, rather than of a lack of professionalism on her part. Staged across several floors of the McKittrick Hotel in New York City, the 1920s rendition of Macbeth is more of a spectator sport than a traditional theater mise-en-scène, with audience members following roaming actors from room to room to witness the story unfold.
Upon entry, guests are greeted in a speakeasy lounge by flapper-clad waitresses offering champagne, and fedora-clad musicians strumming the bass. It’s a calming introduction that belies the frenetic pace of what is to come. Once visitors don their Phantom-of-the-Opera-like masks (to distinguish them from the actors) and enter the staging area, the implicit bond of community that is characteristic of a conventional audience is broken, and each individual wanders off to explore the varying settings based on his or her whim. The actors then emerge and conduct their scenes with a laser-like focus that makes no acknowledgment of the tangibly voyeuristic presence of audience members.
What is perhaps most fascinating about the show is how the progression of scenes organically breeds that previously lacking audience collectivity. One develops a feel for when an important exchange is about to take place, and as a few spectators start moving in a certain direction to catch it, there is a palpable energy that drives others to quickly follow at a stampede-like pace. By the end of the production, somehow each audience member ends up in the same grand ballroom, witnessing Macbeth’s downfall. Without discounting the disturbing beauty of the way integral scenes are executed—from the dramatic murder of King Duncan in his own bed, to a lithely choreographed version of Lady Macbeth’s “Out, damn’d spot!” breakdown, to an erotically charged feast done by the actors in slow motion—it may very well be this mounting energy and ultimate crowd cohesion that is truly what one should “get” as the biggest takeaway and wonder, making the evening highly recommendable.
And, true to our team here at OliviaPalermo.com, we couldn’t give you a review of an event with such heavy influences from the 1920s and masquerade balls without appraising the fashion. Perhaps most delightfully surprising is how much the ladies’ evening wear was evocative of Spring 2012 couture. Lady Macbeth wore a richly sequined, black full-skirted calf-length number with bracelet sleeves (as seen at Givenchy). Other standout looks included a knee-length, dove gray balloon-skirted shift adorned with feathers (reminiscent of Chanel), and a cap-sleeved party dress with bias-cut strips of black and silver chevron beading and a matching bolero. The timelessness and grace of those pieces? Yes, that we certainly get.
For tickets, please visit SleepNoMoreNYC.com
Running through June 30th, 2012
Leena Sanzgiri is a Manhattan-based management consultant from Dubai, where she grew up loving fashion, art, music, and theater. She strives to balance writing, traveling, cooking, painting, socializing, and hunting for vintage finds with watching abnormal amounts of reality television. Stay tuned for her forthcoming personal blog and for more posts on www.oliviapalermo.com, or follow her on Twitter: @leenasanzgiri
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