Friday, April 22, 2011

Sleep No More **Spoilers**

My Ticket
I cannot put into words the experience of “Sleep No More” that I had last night, here, in my beloved Gotham City but I will TRY. It was a fragmented series of events that conjured feelings of depravation, insanity, fear, voyeurism, enchantment, lust, sympathy, and isolation.

We entered a hallway black as pitch. We were given a single playing card. We roamed a black fabric covered labyrinth, where I felt around blindly in the dark until it opened up to a red velvet lined curtained room- we were catapulted into a jazz age speakeasy complete with band and fervent chatter. We got our Kopparburg Ciders, and slowly began to take in the scenery. A man came out, asking for “Two more brave souls to enter”. We volunteered ourselves, and slammed back what was left of our cider... which was to be our last sip of reality.

We were shuffled into yet another dark room, where a sequined dame languidly expressed to us the rules for the duration of our stay. Egg shell colored plague masks were passed our way. As I slid the wide beaked shell over my long face I felt the anonymity and mystique permeate all sense of identity I had. The masks must stay on the whole time. We were told to no longer speak. They filed us into what turned out to be a massive freight elevator, where one of our “group” was pushed out into an unknown corridor- forced to separate from his companion. She moaned in protest, but the elevator attendant simply laughed and told us in his thick cheeky Scottish brogue that we SHOULD separate, as that was part of the experience.

We exited. Where I found myself next was an apothecaries den thick with the blackest sort of magic. Dried flowers, chalk scribbles, and fragments of parchment expressing the practical uses of ritualistic magic. Taxidermy beasts, femur bones in drawers, maps of Scotland, shreds of animal pelts, vials filled with unknown noxious substances- all there to explore room by dimly lit room. Disturbing dreams and beautiful nightmares all silently resting yearning to leap out at you.

I caught sight of frenzied movement and before long the chase for the muddled tale of 
Macbeth unfolded before me. Fragments- bizarre and intoxicating- the lucid dreamscapes I witnessed confounded me. I’m not sure what happened.

There was a ballroom dance, all whimsy and laughter. Beautiful men in a close embrace mere inches before me. The sweeping of a blue velvet dress brushing my hands and cheek. Men and women of dapper dress pirouetting, fox trotting, and swinging through the air with grace and ease, their silence masked by the sounds of the music. The music and gaiety seemed to last forever- when all that was white  suddenly went blue. A subtle shift to the moribund. A once flowing locked woman- now turned to a bald and enraptured witch writhes and shrieks in the once joyous ballroom. Her dance is eerie, jagged, and alienating. We the silent audience shrouded in our bird masks stare as ghostly specters.

I find a tall lanky blonde man in a cold panic. I follow him- nay- I chase him. Birds of the plague are all in a rabid hunt through a maze composed of sheer madness spiraling up endless flights of stairs. We come to a store front, another apothecary? There is a beautiful Asian woman in a deep blue flowing gown with a 
plunging neckline, waiting. There is an exchange of poisons, a struggle set to dance watched through a grimy plexi-glass shop front window- he gets what he wants. I’m led by the crazed man down a narrow steel lined wall. The sounds of audience members hands and nails scraping by at the raised edges of adding to the cacophony of sensory overload. The hall opened to a room lit red, lined with cocktail tables, and a stage. There is a man contemplating his scotch. I perch myself upon a bar stool and watch. He holds the shot glass, seemingly mumbling, a prayer perhaps? Who knows. Maddened cackling erupts. A woman in red appears by his side. Is she drunk or insane? We’re all left guessing. There is a blue spot light illuminating them. Slow drones of electronica begin to pulse throughout the room. Strobes erupt. A myriad collage of beaked onlookers in stuttered nightmarish shards spot my vision. The strobe lights and electronica summon (what I assume) are the Weird Sisters... And the devil himself.  Naked, donning a Rams head. His dance is shameless, brazen, hypnotic to the swaying droning beat, and paired beautifully with the sister's gyrations. There is blood everywhere. Streaks of red smeared all over all the practitioners. Then there enters the wife of MacDuff (again, I assume), her pregnancy violated as a fetus is ripped from her in a frenzy. All this and still the naked devil man streaked in blood is dancing. Flesh is fed upon. The beautiful Asian woman in blue is sprawled out across a cocktail table and devoured in sheer ecstasy.

The music slows, the strobe softens, the rams head is removed and reveals a depraved and slight young man, naked, bloody. I choose to follow him out. He leads us to a hidden chamber where there is a simple black bathroom. There is one single shower stall. Already naked- but needing to cleanse himself, the man turns on the water and collapses into the stall. A room full of masked voyeurs watch as the small shaking man rinses the blood away. I seat myself below the sink and watch, suddenly wrought with pity for him. He mutters and gestures to us all. There is a towel. We collectively reach and towel him dry. He gestures to his pants. His movement is morose and exhausted. I am handed a shoe. We help him put his trousers on, fix the shoes upon his feet. We helped to put the man back together again. Pants, shoes, suspenders and all. The once carnal and blood streaked beast is transformed back to the civilized albeit disheveled man.

We are led through to a great hall, where a dinner party is taking place. The last supper of Macbeth. All the characters are all on display in a line across a well covered table full of glasses, dishware, and wine. The characters move languidly, as if under water. They move frame by frame yet are flesh before me. There are accusations, rumors, debauchery, unknown discourses and means to an end. The din of the music tells of a foreboding doom. I flee to explore.

There is a boudoir, hallways lined with mirrors, a room of decapitated baby dolls in a stationary flight circling around an old empty cradle. The air is caked with dust and a stench of old things. Walking further on, I find 
empty living rooms, hinting towards wealth, now decrepit and crumbling. I find an empty child’s bedroom messy and scattered with old toys. I discover a miniature scale cemetery, the smell of earth and metal is thick. There is a moist chill in the air. A small black pram sits alone among the small crosses in the scattered dirt. I walk through to the other side, and find grey stone bricks- ruins in decay with cloaked statues of rueful women scattered throughout the eerie man made moors. Beyond the ruins, I see an interior, a massive room, with cabinetry, a massive bed, and a large bathtub set in the center of the room. I find the Lady M seducing Macbeth with the lyrical twists of her lithe body. A heated yet wordless argument takes them throughout the room, scaling up the cabinetry, mocking gravity itself until finally they sit at the foot of their bed, in a momentary embrace. Macbeth departs, I assume to kill Duncan. The Lady is pleased, lost in thought, dancing about the room, she perches her body on the rim of the tub, love-letters from Macbeth spotted with dirty bath water are scattered around the bath. She remains perched and then floats- as if utterly weightless, dipping her feet into the dirty brownish red water. She drapes an extravagant robe across her shoulders, and flourishes proudly across the room. I leave her to her thoughts and the intrigued onlookers.

There is a hospital wing. Freshly abandoned hospital beds, doctors studies, surgical implements, a dog frozen in space with its gnashing teeth clutching at a doctors bag, a chair of antiquity good for strapping one in perhaps to perform a labotamy, a public surgical 
lecture room, and clothes hanging on string impeding your view everywhere. Walking further through, I find a  forest maze of branches that claw at you as you walk through, peering through the clearing I spot a seemingly helpless lamb. There is a hut at the end of the path lined with birch wood, where a woman works inside, doing what I knew not. The grand ballroom is full of fog now where once the dinner party and dancing- the Birnam wood swallowing you.

People are thrown together and torn apart both as actor and audience member. If you’re lucky, you’ll be told a secret.

Otherwise, just be sure to stay for the hanging.

...and I’ve barely scratched the surface.