I was one of those lining up on Memorial Day night to see Punchdrunk’s SLEEP NO MORE in the Chelsea gallery district. The Scottish play as nightmare is an old trope, well founded in the text. So to deconstruct it as a sort of haunted house theme park and fragment its episodes in the manner of a dream is something of a masterstroke.
I wandered around the five floors of the so-called McKittrick Hotel for 2½ hours, reading scraps of Shakespearean dialogue on abandoned desktops, perusing Victorian curiosity cabinets, picking up this strand here, this one there, losing this or that attractive cast member in the crush (or because I was outrun), having doors closed in my face, sitting on the props, dabbing the sweat from my face and adjusting my mask (everyone has to wear one and keep shut up), holding an umbrella for Macduff (or so I took him to be – he was burying little sparrows at the time), looking for the notorious nude bathtub scene and never finding it (although there are tubs galore), getting Hershey’s chocolate sauce on my shirt and fingers (it was supposed to represent something else), watching a tree sneak across the ballroom after the banquet, making this or that connection to Macbeth (which I know very well), and pondering the elements that didn’t seem to fit (the link to Hitchcock that has been asserted didn’t leap out at me – if it is the birds, they were in Shakespeare first).
I just might go again. SLEEP NO MORE may not be profound or revelatory. But it could scarcely be better or more engrossing on its own terms.
Click here for information on SLEEP NO MORE and McKittrick Hotel.