Yesterday was the most fun I’ve had all year, and by far the greatest April Fool’s anything of my life.
I’ve rambled about Sleep No More before, but in case you don’t recall, it’s:
* A mashup of Hitchcock and Macbeth
* Set to music, and mostly without speech
* Told via modern dance
* Takes place over 100 rooms of a 6-story warehouse
* Interactive with the audience (you’re free to explore the sets and props, and if you’re lucky you’ll get pulled into scenes with the actors, or even into subplots that only you are aware of)
* Choose your own adventure (you can follow actors as they go on separate paths, so it’s impossible to see the whole thing)
* Unbelievably sexy
* And dark and violent
I knew they were doing an April Fool’s Day show and assumed they’d change things up somehow, but had no idea how. SO.
First, usually when you enter, you go through a creepy maze, almost entirely in the dark, feeling your way by touch, to the sound of ~eeeerie~ music from Hitchcock films. But this time… I entered the the not-so-eerie Indiana Jones theme music. Which transitioned to the Superman theme, and then the Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back.
So I walked in already cracking up. The eerie maze is not quite so eerie to the sound of the Indiana Jones score. ;)So I went in, took the elevator, and came out on the 4th floor, directly into the rave/orgy/prophecy scene. Literally walked right into it out of the elevator; had no idea you could even do that.
Possibly one of the reasons I like Sleep No More so much is the orgy/prophecy scene. It's just so fucked up. And the fact that you're standing right there, getting splattered with fake blood, with four ridiculously hot naked people miming a pansexual orgy right in front of you? How many times in your life is that likely to happen?
So I had to follow the Boy Witch because he showers naked (what?) and then went down to the banquet. So, the banquet. Is very dark and dramatic and usually done to this eerie, atmospheric, creepily epic soundtrack. But this time. This time. It was... the soundtrack was "November Rain."
I almost died. I haven't laughed that much in a long time.
Somehow the portentiousness of the performance brought out the pure OTT cheesiness of the GNR song, and, yeah, it was just too funny. "Sometimes I need some time ~all alone~". OMG.
So then the cycle started up again and I followed the Boy Witch, because, well, he's hot, and I've never followed him for a full cycle and always wanted to, so I successfully did.
This was an actor I hadn't seen before, but he was fine looking, and it is my favorite character, so.
He starts out pushing trees around, wets his hand in a... thingy of water, does some kind of ritual dance in front of a tree, goes up to the 2nd floor hotel lobby, meets the other witches, is joined by Macbeth and has an amazing dance with him and the other witches over the lobby bar (where Macbeth ends up with a King playing card--this is the prophecy where the witches tell Macbeth he'll be king), then the Boy Witch goes somewhere else (phone booths? maybe this is where he has his private dance in the luggage room?), flirts with the Porter who smears black makeup under the Boy Witch's eyes, takes an audience member by hand and leads them to the seat in front of the stage, and lip syncs to "Is That All There Is?" while crying.
Except. This time. Instead of a mournful "Is That All There Is?" the song was a cheeky "Diamonds Are Forever."
Yes. Again. I almost died laughing. So that was the April Fool's prank--the entire super serious dark Hitchcockian show was done to cheesy hits of the 70s and 80s.
I don't know if this is really Staggering Genius or if it just hits right at my particular sense of humor, but it was so funny. I couldn't stop laughing all night. The juxtaposition of the cheesy 80s music with the dark film noir 40s atmosphere, and the winking self parody inherent in how the over-the-top silly songs highlight the OTT ~high drama~ of the show itself.
So anyway, the Boy Witch goes back to the porter, who wipes away his tears and gives him a tissue, then he takes an audience member by hand and has them wipe away his tears, then takes them into a phone booth and shuts the curtain (so you can't see what he does, but I think they used to do this scene in the open and he would cry on their shoulder and give them a locket), does at dance in front of the booths and beckons the Porter, who he at first mimes that he's going to suck off but instead violently attacks him, then... I think he joins the other witches down on the dance floor, which leads into the big dance scene where he dances with one of the male characters but I'm not sure which one except that it's hot.
Okay so, Sleep No More is set in 1939, to the big dance scene is usually set to a song from the time. But. This time. You can imagine. It was set to two dance pop songs from the 80s. It was too funny. And the actors were clearly having the time of their lives.
So then after the dance... I might be missing something but the Boy Witch ends up on the 4th floor where he goes into the bar with the woodchips on the floor and does this violent dance writhing on the pool table like he's been poisoned. Except the mindfuck music was... something I've heard before, but I don't know what it is, except that it was OTT funny and totally appropriate for the character.
And then someone (the bartender?) comes over and stuffs the Boy Witch into a box on the wall (seriously this show is INSANE) and if you hang around about five minutes the Bald Witch comes and lets him out, and they dance out onto the street, where they are joined by the Sexy Witch, which is one of my favorite scenes and which is followed by the three witches leading the crowd into the orgy.
So the orgy. Usually is set to this crazy fucked up loud techno dance song. But this time, it was to a truly odd remix of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name."
The Boy Witch... I think briefly pays homage to Hecate, then of course joins the orgy with the other witches, strips to his underwear, disappears for a moment and reappears wearing a ram's head mask and no underwear, climbs on a table, the Bald Witch pours blood over his chest, Macbeth enters and mimes giving him head (First Apparition: an armed Head?), the strobe lights come on, there's a crazy orgy in which everyone's screwing everyone, the Bald Witch gives birth to a bloody baby (Second Apparition: A bloody Child) and she and the Sexy Witch take turns suckling it, then the Boy Witch and Bald Witch stand on a table with him groping her naked breasts, then the music slows and they all gather around the table and the Boy Witch gives Macbeth a small tree (Third Apparition: a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand) and then Macbeth runs out (to kill Banquo in the bar with the wood chips), the Boy Witch runs out (to shower naked and have audience members put his clothes on), the Bald Witch runs out (to wash her face and have an audience member towel her dry and re-tie her dress), and the Sexy Witch stays and does a sexy dance over the bar with Hecate watching.
So this time I stayed with the Sexy Witch, and, OMG, so glad I did because the mindfuck, it was amazing. She does this dance over the bar--one side of her dress is down and her bare breast is hanging out. She's got on this flowy green dress and dance shoes, and her hair is up but messy. So she's dancing, like I've seen before, on top of the bar, occasionally disappearing behind it, and I'm looking at her because she's new (she replaced Ching-I Chang who was amazing), and then she comes up over the bar again and... what? Did the side of her dress that was down switch? And did she get... shorter? And... her face seems rounder? And Hecate came over and stroked her face, and it took me like 30 seconds to realize OH HEY THEY JUST CHANGED ACTORS.
That was brilliant.
So I went down the banquet again (LOL November Rain) and... holy crap, they switched almost all of the actors. So we got to see the entire cast perform! (Usually you only see one set.) And, OMG, best part...
So the first time I ever saw the show, the first actor I saw was the Boy Witch who was lip syncing to "Is That All There Is?" while crying, and it blew my mind because he was so hot. (And he really projected vulnerability when he cried, and you know vulnerability + crying + hot guy + violence + nudity + ho!yay = FANGIRL CRACK). But every time I went after, there was not an actor that hot playing him, and I couldn't find any reference to one, so I thought I probably imagined the hot one. (alpheratz can confirm this; I told her I thought I imagined him but she too insists she saw him.)
So, tonight, after the actor switch... the actor playing the Boy Witch was the hot one I saw the very first time I went. (I'm not sure but google tells me his name is probably Conor Doyle.) I didn't imagine him!
So this kind of threw a wrench in my plans, since I'd already followed the Boy Witch for an entire cycle and was planning to use the last cycle to explore areas that I hadn't seen before. But since the Boy Witch was now 1000x hotter, I had to go back and catch a few of his key scenes again.
So I watched the first witch dance with Macbeth, explored the fourth floor (where I heard the Back to the Future theme in addition to more Indiana Jones, and followed the detective for a while, and concluded that if you're new to SNM and want to find actors, hang out on the fourth floor--there's always stuff happening in the shops, and Hecate in her bar, and I still can't believe I've never encountered the secret passage), came back to see "Is That All There Is?" ("Diamonds Are Forever" again), and this actor was way better and managed to really cry through the whole song, oh yes AND I WAS THE AUDIENCE MEMBER HE TOOK BY THE HAND AND LED TO A SEAT IN THE FRONT, then I went and tried to find Duncan getting ready for the dance (I'd walked into that scene before and thought it was really cool, where his friends/subjects are dressing him and there's this really interesting atmosphere of friendship mixed with subservience, because they're his buddies but he also has absolute power over their lives) but again I was late and only caught the end, watched the dance, wandered, watched Macbeth kill Duncan, headed back up to the orgy because HELLO I wanted to see the really hot guy naked, followed him to the shower after and failed to put his shoe on (the laces were knotted! it was dark! why'd he have to hand me his shoe, anyway?), then down to the banquet again. Instead of "November Rain" it was Michael Jackson's "Earth Song."
I know why they limited this show to audience members who've seen the show before--because if you'd never seen it before you would think it was completely absurd.
So, awesome. And then they let us out, and instead of being over, it was... AN 80s KARAOKE PARTY. Yes. Sleep No More: The 80s Karaoke Party. Again, I almost died.
So I wish I'd had someone to talk to, but aside from that, I had two wonderful gin gimlets and watched pretty much the entire cast of Sleep No More mingle with the audience and sing 80s karaoke. Including: Jordan Morley, who I think is not in the show anymore, but who played the Boy Witch the last three times I went, doing some amazing impromptu dances (oh yeah... these people are professional dancers...), the most impressive of which was to "Footloose"; one of the lady cast members doing "Baby Got Back"; a whole bunch of other insane and hilarious stuff; and a conclusion at 1am with both Boy Witches together doing actual karaoke to "Diamonds Are Forever."
There are no words for how awesome it was.