Sleep No More – Punchdrunk in New York

SLEEP-articleLargeSleep No More is based on Macbeth, and takes place in the fictional McKittrick’s Hotel, located in a fictional Scotland. An extremely ambitious production; the hotel spreads over six floors (I think – you do lose your sense of time and place), and contains innumerable (well, just over 100, so it says) rooms, each with its own character – some tiny, some huge, connected by labyrithine, narrow corridors, stairways, or ghostly halls with installations resembling ruins, miniature graveyards, ballrooms, and many others I cannot mention – or may have missed.

The actors/dancers work in cycles and loops that interweave with each other, like some passionate, winding (and quite murderous) clockwork. You end up running up and down stairs, following them as they move at speed between rooms and settings. The performances are intensely physical; they are clearly all dancers, but the acting is fully in place, too. They literally bounce off the walls, lifting, throwing, climbing, slithering. Embodying the atmosphere of the play palpably at all times.

There is a highly charged banquet, where the court of Macbeth dines in painfully intense slow motion; perfectly choreographed, and you just know, every moment, that things are twisted, wrong, primal, inflamed by madness, and heading somewhere very dark. There are bedroom scenes between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that are simultaneously erotic, tender, passionate, and stark raving mad. There are so many things I could write about, and it will take me a while to unpick it all.

Amazingly, my mum and I spent three hours in there, and crossed paths several times – yet ended up telling each other later, in the bar, about entire floors and scenes that only one of us saw. And I thought I had managed to catch it all – but that clearly wasn’t the case.

Well, I will likely return to this one for some time. It even got into my dreams!


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