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Doctor Who Recap Season 9, Episode 9, "Sleep No More"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 9, “Sleep No More”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 9, “Sleep No More”

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah for the opening line of a Doctor Who episode to be an emphatic “You must not watch this,” addressed directly to the audience. “Sleep No More” is a very odd and experimental entry written by Mark Gatiss, who last year contributed the light and frothy “Robot of Sherwood,” as great a contrast to this as could be imagined. With a nightmarish threat extrapolated from our mundane, everyday experience (in this case, the “sleep dust” we wipe from our eyes every morning when we wake up), he’s aiming here for the sort of effect more associated with the episodes penned by showrunner Steven Moffat. However, as the first truly standalone episode this season, it can’t help but feel rather insubstantial after the previous weightier tales, even before a surprise ending reveals the whole thing to be one big shaggy-dog story.

Sleep No More Haunts Chelsea Warehouse

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<em>Sleep No More</em> Haunts Chelsea Warehouse
<em>Sleep No More</em> Haunts Chelsea Warehouse

One of the season’s biggest theatrical spectacles is not on Broadway. Sleep No More marks the New York City debut of Punchdrunk, a British company known for its immersive theater productions. Filling up a six-floor Chelsea warehouse space with their heady concoction of scenic design and wordless performance, they’ve managed to turn Macbeth inside out. “The Scottish play” is certainly having a New York moment: two Off-Broadway productions, Throne of Blood at Film Forum this weekend. Punchdrunk’s loose adaptation ups the ante, making the audience uniquely complicit in this tale of madness, upheaval, and revenge.

While “interactive” performances like Fuerza Bruta take their inspiration from the club scene, Punchdrunk has adopted the atmosphere of a haunted house—or in this case, a hotel. They’ve replaced cheap scares with the genuine ghastliness of the source material, Shakespeare’s most macabre play. Sleep No More’s primary setting is the McKittrick Hotel. With its noirish early-1930s trappings, this hotel functions as a time warp as well.