Thanks to Ryan Tyson for this partnered guest post.
Shakespeare’s plays are always being reworked, set in different time periods, and altered so that only the original storyline remains. The same can be said for “Sleep No More,” a retelling of “Macbeth,” but this particular version has staying power. The audience is anonymized, immersed, and encouraged to explore the set and watch the scenes acted out in front of them. No sitting in seats and watching the play unfold for this version. Following are three reasons you need to go see “Sleep No More” and experience Shakespeare in a whole new light.
An Interactive Murder-Mystery Play That Isn’t
“Macbeth” isn’t a murder-mystery so much as it’s a political commentary about ambitious people who seek power. What “Sleep No More” does is take the format of an interactive murder-mystery. The play is set in a 1930s hotel and is spread over five floors. Patrons arrive and are handed a mask to put on, a sheet with sparse instructions, and no map of the hotel. At no time are the patrons allowed to talk.
Staff encourages everyone to walk around and find a room where the play begins, check out the props in each room, explore, and move around to find the next piece of the puzzle. Each scene is started simultaneously throughout the hotel, allowing everyone to stay in sync with the progress of the play.
A Sense of Mystery and Intrigue
The hotel is set up to allow cast members to come and go as they like and seemingly disappear or appear in front of audience members. Patrons are encouraged to follow the actors from one room to the next and let themselves get lost in the experience. The set is designed to purposely confuse the viewer and make it difficult to figure out where they’re going. The goal of the set and play is to make the viewer work on solving the puzzle while experiencing everything at one’s own pace.
One-on-One Experiences With the Actors
The major difference between “Sleep No More” and a regular production of “Macbeth” is intimacy. Patrons aren’t kept in their seats to observe from a distance; rather, they can get up close and personal while a scene is playing out. Although those who are averse to gore might want to step back during a murder scene, patrons have the opportunity to sit right next to the action and watch. And some audience member might be taken aside into a room by an actor. What happens in that room is up to the actor, but things tend to stay PG-rated. Meanwhile, the patron gets an experience that no play will ever match.
“Sleep No More” is a fascinating take on “Macbeth,” one that is rarely repeated. It brings theater-goers into a whole new world of theatrical production that’s unlike any other. “Macbeth” is brought from the pages, even the stage, and put right in front of the patron so they can feast on an experience like no other.