Last night was my 9th visit to Sleep No More. This obsession is getting a bit scary!
To be fair, I wasn’t planning to go again so soon after the Mayfair, but a group of my coworkers decided to go, and invited me, and well… they just asked so nicely… ;) And I have to admit, I was very allured by the idea of going with other people, since I am usually there on my own with no one to talk to before and after.
So apparently the ninth time was the charm, because I had my first actual one-on-ones, and two in the same night!I think this is because:
* I've usually been going for special events (Mayfair, Remixed, NYE, Halloween) which are super crowded and full of people who've been there before and aggressively follow the actors and angle for the one-on-ones. Last night was the late show (11pm-2am) and way less crowded than I'm used to, with a far less aggressive audience.
* Despite the fact that I love this show and I've spent an absurd amount of money that I can't really afford on it, I'm usually late. It's a thing. Last night, since I was with coworkers, we actually arrived early and went right in, so I actually got to experience the first cycle with almost no audience around, including quite a few scenes performed with me as the only audience member. (FREAKY.)
* I usually have a tendency to watch the same scenes over and over, because I stumble into them and go "Oh this is a good scene, I have to stay for it." This ends up with me missing out on new experiences, and knowing some characters really well while being oblivious to others. So this time, I resolved to only watch scenes I'd never seen before, and to immediately leave as soon as I encountered anything familiar. I also resolved to avoid any big crowds (it's stressful and sets you up for disappointment, since you're stuck peering over people's heads and are likely to lose the actor as soon as they start running), so I went the opposite way anytime I hit a group.
So, I ended up starting out at the hotel lobby, where I ran into Mrs. Danvers (I forget her actual character name) trying to poison Lady Macduff, with the Porter trying to stop her. I was the only person watching, and when the actors split up, I couldn't decide who to follow, because whoever I didn't follow would have no one watching them. (AGAIN FREAKY.) I followed Mrs. Danvers and Lady Macduff, where they did a dance in the little hotel restaurant centered around the poison, and watched an amazing scene of Lady Macduff with a mirror and a suitcase (she put a dried flower in her hair and held up a pretty dress against her reflection--the lighting and use of mirror was amazing, like seeing a film come to life in reality--then held up baby clothes to her pregnant belly, then looked at me like I was a real ghost who scared her and ran off).
Then I started following the Porter, and stuck with him for almost a full cycle, much of it with me as the only person watching him. He was incredible. I'd never followed him before, so this was a whole story that I never even had any idea about. Also I realized, since I usually followed the Macbeths and the witches, I am usually following villains. It's a whole different emotional impact to follow someone like the Porter, who is actually really sympathetic. And it didn't hurt that the actor playing him was really lovely--kind of like a young Cary Elwes--and a really good actor. His facial expressions were so moving.
I can't remember the order of everything, but I watched him drape white sheets over the hotel lobby furniture, then later do a dance uncovering them and shaking out the sheets (there was like this whole whimsical scene where he was dancing on his own, like "This is what the Porter does when no one's around" kind of thing). I watched him write a letter to Hecate (What's done cannot be undone, and Blood will have blood, they say) and watched an audience member deliver him a note from Hecate (she asked for her ring; he wrote a note back asking to be released and wrapped it around the ring, then gave it to the audience member to give back to Hecate). I watched him serve tea to the suitcase girl and take her bundle of money, then give it back. I was behind the front desk, watching him watch the Boy Witch lip sync "Is That All There Is?" which was a revelation. Usually I watch the Boy Witch, who OTT-dramatic cries through the whole song. But behind the front desk, with no one but me looking at him in close up, the Porter cried quietly throughout the entire song. He was wiping his own tears away when the Boy Witch came back and stole his tissue.
I watched the phone booth dance/fight between Boy Witch and Porter, this time from the POV of following the Porter, and then after the fight, when the Boy Witch had run off and the Porter was lying on the ground, he suddenly stood up and grabbed my hand and ran off with me into his private room, where he shut the door, so it was just us. I had no idea this was going to happen. I don't want to spoil the one-on-one for anyone else, but I will say:
* The actor was so moving, he almost made me cry. The scene made me totally love the character and want him to be happy with who he is.
* The lighting/staging/use of mirror was so cinematic, so perfectly like a meticulously made film, that I really could not believe it was literally happening in real life with just us two people in the room.
Here is a picture of what resulted:
(You can also see a smear of chocolate blood from the orgy, which came later. But the lipstick and ring are from the Porter.)
After that, the story moved on to something I'd already seen--the Porter trying to protect Lady Macduff--so I went off to find something else. (I realize I should have stuck around a bit longer to see the whole Porter cycle, since I'd missed whatever he does when I was following Lady Macduff and Mrs. Danvers. Gee, I guess I'll just have to go see it again...)
So then... hmm... what did I do? I was so shaken and in awe from the one-on-one that my memory is kind of blurry.
I saw two amazing and frankly, scary dances on the staircases. Scary because those stairs aren't padded and those actors were seriously falling down them as part of the dances. One was Banquo's ghost, at the end. The other was... Macduff, I think?
I watched two really cool dances in the little chapel with the bier, but I forget who the characters were. I think one was Macduff, and the other was definitely Banquo, because I followed Banquo afterward and totally inadvertently, got his one-on-one too.
So this one also completely blew my mind. This show is so amazing. Again, I don't want to spoil it, but I will say:
* As someone who is pathologically shy and hates being the focus of attention, but kind of secretly wants to be, it was so terrifying and was such an intense adrenaline rush to have this intense, amazing actor's attention focused totally on me.
* Banquo is another good guy, so again, I was really thrown by how much sympathy I felt for the character. After what he asked of me in this scene, I felt terribly guilty when he was killed!
Here is the result of this one-on-one:
Banquo also found me at the end, wrapped an arm around me, held my hand, led me up the stairs, removed my mask, and kissed my cheek. To say I was shaking and overwhelmed would be an understatement.
I am usually so buttoned up and uptight and overly intellectual, and have such a hard time getting out of my own head and just being in the moment, so I think one of the main reasons I keep going back to Sleep No More is that it's one of the only things I've found that can get me in that in the moment headspace. (Not always--often Sleep No More makes me feel more like Morrissey in "How Soon Is Now?"--but on those rare occasions like last night when it actually works, it is so amazing.)
I'm trying to think, what else did I see? Being around coworkers, including my boss, was a bit weird, but I mostly avoided them. I saw a couple scenes that I'd seen before--one iteration of the big dance, one of the orgy, and the final banquet, but all from new angles. I watched Macbeth kill Banquo again, because I'd had the one-on-one and felt such an emotional connection to Banquo. I watched Hecate a bit, and watched the Sexy Witch poison Macduff in the candy shop (he does this amazing climb-the-walls dance afterward), and I saw someone else do some amazing climb-the-walls dance in that same little corridor, but I can't remember who it was or when. The Sexy Witch was Ching-I Chang again, who is unbelievably awesome and I want her to always be the Sexy Witch. I watched her drag the guy next to me into a private room right after her candy shop scene, and was sad to miss it.
So... yeah. I really have no words for how amazing Sleep No More is. And I really need to stop spending money on it, but, my birthday is coming up, and my friend Cat offered to see it with me, so maybe... one more time? ;)