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.